New CD, Commissions, Etc. and Tax-DeductiblePosted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019
My big news is the June 28 release by The Crossing of Evolutionary Spirits. This CD includes To Elliott and My Mistress’ Eyes. Of course the Grammy-winning ensemble under Donald Nally sounds terrific on them. King’s Chapel Boston premiered my parody mass on When Jesus Wept in March. Thanks to Heinrich Christensen there. I’m excited about four commissions scheduled for 2019-20, including by ensembles closer to where I live. Stay tuned! And The Thirteen, another outstanding professional ensemble led by my friend Matthew Robertson will perform the 12-voice Musica Dei Donum at an October gala; lots of fun. In addition, my church choir is premiering the spiritual arrangement Hallelujah, I Been Down Into the Sea June 30. Meanwhile, I’ve reached a dozen HMM Editions available via JW Pepper MyScore, e.g. Palestrina, Monte from the European Renaissance and Billings, Holden, Southern Harmony from America. There’s also Antonio de Salazar’s double-choir O Sacrum Convivium, bridging these worlds. I’m glad to announce Fractured Atlas is sponsoring my work, meaning you can contribute and it’s tax-deductible! That will make possible recording of Music at the Heart of Creation for choir and ten-part brass. With newfound time after retiring from diplomatic service, I recently composed a symphonic piece for mezzo, chorus & orchestra and a string quartet. And there are more large works in the pipeline. I also have more time to answer mail, so let me hear from you! Old and New MusicPosted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
A new concert season and school year is underway; that's exciting. Summer was great too for a change of pace. One highlight was recording two of my pieces with choral Grammy winners The Crossing and director Donald Nally. For a 2019 CD, he chose "My Mistress' Eyes," a 2012 commission that now will be heard again. Also, my older homage "To Elliott" for the late, great composer Elliott Carter. Brand new are a Christmas/Epiphany carol "Come, Love We God" that Pacific Edge Voices will premiere in December. Meanwhile, I've been busy with projects from a 12-part Latin motet to a brass and choir piece with modern text and some other things to be revealed in the fullness of time. Thanks for checking out my work and stay in touch!J.W. Pepper MyScorePosted on Monday, April 30th, 2018
So much catching up to do... To start, I'll note J.W. Pepper MyScore now has many of my works available. This includes "Sweetest Music: Three Shaker Settings," which Project:Encore endorsed last year. Also "The Kingdom of God," which premieres next month in Washington when the Common Lectionary features the Mustard Seed lesson. It arranges a great song by Austen Lovelace as a choir anthem. Secular pieces include the extended "A Few Plain Hints: William Walker's Words for Singers," which a New York high school recently performed and my edition of Billings' "Modern Musick," featured at the 2017 Southern Invitational Choral Conference in Mississippi. I should also mention a reprise of my Laudamus Te solo by mezzo Solmaaz Adeli in California this spring. All of which proves my music gets around even if I have stuck close to home lately! Launch of HMM Editions and Other News (not HMS Pinafore)Posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2016
As a new concert season and school year begin, I’m teeming with a lot of news, to borrow from Gilbert & Sullivan. J.W. Pepper’s MyScore now offers several pieces from early America and Renaissance Europe that I have edited. They include Caurroy and Billings and there are more of these practical HMM Editions in the works, including Read, Salazar, Monte & Sweelinck. “What Wondrous Love Is This” for SATB just premiered and an SSAA arrangement of “Brethren, We Have Met To Worship” is another imminent addition to my settings of shape-note hymns. “Come Now & Celebrate” is a new, original holiday song for SATB and piano that will premiere in concert in Washington, D.C. in December and is also scheduled for performances in Reading & Hamburg, PA. It is on the Navona Records CD, “Dashing,” along with “Behold That Star,” for solo baritone, SATB choir & organ. Navona also plans to release the CD “Cadence,” again with The Stanberry Singers, featuring American poetry and my “Remembering All: Five Sandburg Poems” for SATB a cappella. Recently revised for this recording they are fitting for 2017, the 50th anniversary of Sandburg’s death. Three Latin Prayers continue to receive performances and are reformatted in a more convenient octavo edition. I’m looking forward to singing the Dona Nobis Pacem from this set with the ensemble Musikanten on tour in Poland and Germany, including service on the September 11 anniversary. And thanks to the good folks at J.W. Pepper, all of these pieces and more are available as printed music or if you prefer as an electronic file. There's more new work coming, but that's enough for now. Stay tuned, and not just for cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse!
Overdue UpdatePosted on Monday, February 15th, 2016
Lots of projects, Facebook postings and other updates in the last 12 months, but I'm only now writing a new website article. Here's a quick run-down. PARMA Records is recording seven pieces in March for release on two CD's. Their holiday compilation is due out in Fall 2016 and a collection with American poetry in 2017. These include "Come Now and Celebrate" for chorus & piano and revised editions of my Sandburg Poems, first published and recorded 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Composers Choir released the Undiscovered Choral Gems CD with "Ecumenical Meditation" in 2015 and I created several virtual albums available on CD Baby. "Come Away to the Skies," accepted recently by Project Encore, got several more performances and led to a new commission for an American folk hymn setting; stay tuned for details. The two love ballads I arranged for middle school chorus and piano are now available via J.W. Pepper's My Score, joined by more pieces every month. Christmas Eve saw the premiere of my arrangement of the lovely "Mary's Soliloquy" by Lucy Vessey, arranged for solo mezzo and choir. Canada and Kansas recently saw their first performances of my music. My new SATB a cappella setting of John 13, "A New Commandment," echoes my beloved "Peace Be With You" and both will soon be available in printed octavos at My Score. Finally, I have edited several older pieces, including Philippe de Monte's Missa Inclina Cor Meum, which Musikanten just performed at First Night Alexandria and will take on tour to Germany and Poland. This and other HMM Editions (Sweelinck, Du Caurroy, H. Parker, A. Beach) are also being prepared for distribution by J.W. Pepper. And I promise to post more updates in the future! Spring FlingPosted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
It seems a lot of good things have come together at once. Yesterday I got to meet the students from the William and Mary Choir -- and their outstanding director Dr. James Armstrong -- who took my "Angele Dei" on tour this spring. They are excellent and brought beautiful blend and musicianship to this piece. Best was several telling me how much they loved singing it and have requested repeated performances, including an impromptu rendition in the Princeton Chapel. This is what composers live for -- people bringing our page scribblings to life in a splendid artistic symbiosis. The same day I met with a fabulous teacher -- Anne Provencher of George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, VA -- about two new folksong arrangements they will premiere in May. Again, the joy of musical discovery and the commitment to craft are powerful. Meanwhile, I'm adding another state to my checklist -- Voces Novae in Bloomington, Indiana (lots of good musicians there!) scheduled "Ruben and Rachel" for their innovative concert schedule. I'm also working with senior citizen singers and various church choirs on new and old compositions, so it's a busy time. Finally, J.W. Pepper will start offering hard-copy octavos of my most popular choral pieces in April, in addition to Art of Sound Music's expanding catalog of my instrumental and other works. it's appropriate, that all these great developments come at the same time as spring flowers are starting to bloom!Looking Back and AheadPosted on Sunday, December 7th, 2014
Today I'm thinking of the past and the future. This year marked the 30th anniversary of my joining the U.S. Foreign Service. Posted to Lima, I ended up directing a church choir, getting drawn back to music and starting a second career as a composer. Much has happened since. Ten years ago I built a website and organized my catalog. Subsequently, I registered as a local business, upgraded the site, produced recordings, researched scores and joined Facebook, while composing lots. Best of all I got to work with wonderful musicians in many states and countries who brought my work to life. I am blessed truly and grateful!
Having recently moved on from the Service (consider me "rewired" rather than retired), I am thrilled to have more time for composition and study. One result was a fabulous week with American composer-legend Alice Parker. "Come Away To The Skies" grew from that inspiration and will premiere in a few weeks. For Advent/Christmas, I arranged the "Besançon Carol" for organ, produced a two-voice setting of "Yule, Yule" and published a previous "Jesu Bambino."
Today, the Stuttgart German American Chorus under Thomas Carter premiered "Ero Cras: The O Antiphons" for SATB and organ, one of my longest works to date. This commission was completely his idea and I think we're all happy with the result. And recently the William and Mary Choir (C. Paul Heins, conductor) chose "Angele Dei" as the piece from their fall repertoire to reprise in December. These students' vote of confidence means a lot to me!
So here's wishing all of you the very best for the holiday season and for 2015. The new year and its possibilities are exciting! More about them soon... Big Pieces & Little ProjectsPosted on Sunday, August 17th, 2014
"Summertime, and the livin' is easy..." Great song, but not true for composers and conductors! I've returned to my 30+ minutes psalms for choir & orchestra written in Austria but set aside the last couple years. Meant to pair with Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, it's getting the finishing touches at last! Meanwhile, my friends at the Stuttgart German-American Chorus have begun rehearsing "Ero Cras," the O Antiphons to perform in December for SATB & organ, which was a focus for me last summer. That's about 20 minutes in seven movements. June heard great premieres on both coasts of smaller pieces -- funny Shakespeare in California and devout Latin in Washington, D.C. Current projects include performing editions of Eustache du Caurroy, my latest obsession, for an upcoming reading session plus more wind quintet pieces. My day job's been super busy and satisfying, but now I'm making more time to compose. Stay tuned!New Year's News and ResolutionsPosted on Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
Time to reflect on the old year and look ahead to the new. The holidays saw the Meistersingers Chorale in Orange County, California, premiere "Ein Kind Geborn In Bethlehem" (A Baby Born In Bethlehem) for SSATBB. Earlier, Shepherd University (Shepherdstown, MD) premiered a men's choir arrangement of "Dona Nobis Pacem" and the Stuttgart German-American Chorus unveiled "Memories of Lincoln" for SATB & piano. Among several performances of other music, I was particularly excited by conductor Simon Carrington's inclusion of "Angele Dei" for his masterclass in Italy, the 3rd reprise of "Ecumenical Meditation" in Austria and the State Department T-Tones concert with some of my "Old American Beauties." 2014 will see another commission for Meistersingers — "My Mistress' Eyes," setting Shakespeare's funny Sonnet 130 (look it up) for SATB. The Stuttgart choir has commissioned a longer work, the "O Antiphons" for SATB and organ, which is done and already generating excitement. I'm also looking forward to a new a cappella motet on "O Sacrum Convivium" for St. Monica and St. James church in D.C., along with a new hymn. Stay tuned here and on Facebook for more news. Meanwhile, all the best to you and yours for a happy, halcyon and healthy New Year.Old and New PiecesPosted on Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Time's flown; update's overdue! The Stuttgart German-American Community Chorus premieres "Memories of Lincoln" June 9. It's my 7'30" arrangement for SATB and piano of the great art song by William Neidlinger, for a concert commemorating the assassinated Presidents Kennedy and Lincoln. Meanwhile, the Reading (Pennsylvania) Choral Society is reprising "There's A Wideness in God's Mercy" for SATB and organ on March 3. This jaunty favorite dates from 1986! "Ecumenical Meditation" has gotten more performances in Austria, Serbia and Italy, which is exciting for spreading the message of religious tolerance. Next season I have commissions in the works for California and Spain. These include a longer setting of Psalm 27 in Latin for choir and strings as well as a Shakespeare text to be determined for an a cappella performance. And what have I been listening to? Mexican Colonial motets in "stile antico" that could be paired with a modern setting. I think those German part-songs are going to have to wait!Art Songs CallingPosted on Saturday, November 3rd, 2012
After moving back to Arlington, Virgina from Vienna, Austria in August, now I'm nearly unpacked! Despite the big transition, I've gotten some new recordings done, thanks to Composers Choir under Daniel Shaw. Also, I find myself drawn to art songs. One is William Neidlinger's solo "Memories of Lincoln" from the early 20th Century, which I'm arranging for a German-American choir. Another project is translating and adapting a set by Anton Reichel, from 19th Century Switzerland. Somehow, these are affecting my thoughts on a piece yet to be written for a local school choir, which I'm excited about. And I'm putting the final touches on a major work for chorus and orchestra to be announced soon. If I could just find time to finish setting up my desk and printer....Reprises and Choral ConnectionsPosted on Thursday, June 14th, 2012
They say one of the toughest things for a composer is to get a second performance of a new work: the excitement of the premiere is over but the piece has not yet caught on. So I'm delighted that three of my compositions have recently gotten "another chance." The ensemble Salto Vocale under Johannes Wenk chose "Agimus Tibi Gratias" from my Three Latin Prayers for their Austria-Amerika concerts this weekend. They sounded great in rehearsal and I'm sorry I won't be there. Meanwhile, in Nis, Serbia, the Akademski Hor under Suzana Kostić reprised "Ecumenical Meditation" June 1 for the observance of Emperor Constantine and unveiling of a new monument there. And contralto Solmaaz Adeli is performing selections from I Breathed A Song: Four Fireside Poems in a program for Metropolitan Museum of Art Patrons in Vienna June 25. I also have news about works (old and new) being scheduled for the 2012-13 season, but will save that for another time. Today, I'm thrilled to be in Minneapolis for the first time, renewing ties and making new friends during the Choral Connections conference of the American Composers Forum. Tomorrow is "speed dating" with conductors from Chorus America and we'll see where that leads!Spring BloomsPosted on Friday, April 20th, 2012
All the budding and blooming now (in the Northern Hemisphere) has been beautiful and rejuvenative. My contribution is "Salvation Shall Be All My Song: Six Holyoke Hymns." Celebrating this seminal American psalmodist\'s 250th birth anniversary, these arrangements present six of his tunes as choral anthems. Matt Curtis' superb, musical recordings really bring them to life, and I'm excited they will also be available at Matt's site, ChoralTracks.com. Meanwhile, April included Kerry Krebill's "Musikanten" on concert tour in Austria and Slovakia, singing some of my works. Other pieces are being performed in Philadelphia, Vienna and Washington these days as well, so it's an exciting time. I'll have to update my concert calendar... But I also have some other projects in the works, which I'll save for my next update. Here's wishing you the chance to enjoy and appreciate nature wherever you are, and I hope some good music too!Premieres, Repeats & Look-AheadsPosted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
During Thanksgiving time (for Americans), I was grateful for many blessings, including the terrific premiere of "I Breathed A Song: Four Fireside Poems" in Vienna's Musikverein on November 25th. Contralto Solmaaz Adeli and Saxophonist Paul Chuey performed superbly and really made music, I held up my end on the piano, and the audience loved these new art songs. Within the preceding weeks, "Angele Dei," "Agimus Tibi Gratias," and "Ecumenical Meditation" were heard in Washington, Boston and Carnuntum-Petronell respectively. I was delighted to learn that the commissioners of "Ecumenical Meditation" would reprise that work and that the choir came from Serbia -- a land and people I've come to love in years of diplomatic work. Plans are for future performances in Nis, Serbia and Rome, Italy, so that's gratifying too. 2012 promises excitement, but now I'll just mention it's the 250th birth anniversary of Samuel Holyoke, a prolific composer, teacher and publisher of Federal-period America. I just arranged for choir his hymn "Cardigan" (O Thou that hears't when sinners cry) from Isaac Watts' versification of Psalm 51. It would be suitable for Ash Wednesday (coming up on February 22, 2012). More about Holyoke commemorations to come, including some cheerful music!In the Good Ole SummertimePosted on Monday, August 15th, 2011
Recreation and re-creation are so important. Many places have a holiday today to observe Mary's ascension (Maria Himmelfahrt), making a long weekend this year. So I'm catching up and posting news on this site. In many countries of the Northern Hemisphere of course August is prime vacation season. It's a chance to get away from the daily grind and out into nature, pause, relax, appreciate anew. I'm trying to do some of that and my plans have included all kinds of great music, from Bach to operetta to great choral works and exciting premieres. Meanwhile, I've been composing new psalm settings for choir and orchestra, using the same instrumentation as Stravinksky's Symphony of Psalms. Although 4 of the planned 5 movements are written, I still see many more sonic possibilities to explore. Oh well, we'll save those for a future work! I'm also starting Lieder on American poetr, which are to premiere in Vienna this fall. That is again a new direction for me -- a change and fun. Whatever you are doing, I hope you can get in some R&R yourself!Two Premieres and Two RecordingsPosted on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011
These months have been active musically. Plans are afoot for a new mutli-lingual meditation on religious tolerance for choir, flute, clarinet, cello and piano. Hot off the press, it is to premiere in connection with the April 30 commemoration at Carnuntum Archaeological Park in Austria of the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Nikomedia. Coincidentally, Nikomedia is now Izmit, Turkey, a country I visited last fall before I ever knew about this composition request! April 17th will be the premiere in Boulder, Colorado, of "Hosanna, Son of David," for choir and handbells, commissioned by Evanne Browne and Pine Street Palm Sunday, Meanwhile, conductor Patrick Walders and other friends recorded two works of mine at St. Luke Catholic Church in McLean, VA. "From Heaven There Came A Sound" for children, SATB, piano and percussion tells the Pentecost story with drama and new age sounds. "A Few Plain Hints" gives advice to singers from William Walker in 11 short movements combining soloists, SATB and piano. Mezzo Barbara Hollinshead, baritone Brian Ming Chu, pianist Paul Skevington and percussionist Harold Summey were part of this great gang. Look for the recordings to appear elsewhere on this site any day now.Holiday WishesPosted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
If you haven't seen my Facebook composer page recently, check out the new tabs for music and videos. That's what I've been up to, while others in Vienna have opened up Christkindl markets all over town. With today's first big snow and tonight's Menorah-lighting the holiday spirit is definitely in the air. I know musician friends are busy this time of year; try to stay healthy and take time to smell the chestnuts roasting! Of course these days are hard times too, full of economic, political and personal problems for many. Whatever your circumstances, location and beliefs, I wish you the peace and joy that the Christmas season is meant to convey and all the best for the coming year.
Folk Ties: Turkey, America & Central EuropePosted on Saturday, October 9th, 2010
Among various projects keeping me busy was a concert trip to Turkey with Musikanten and Kerry Krebill. Highlights included
performance of my Dona Nobis Pacem in the Great Theater at Ephesus,
famous since Roman times and still magnificent. (The theater, not the music...) The concerts brought classic American works like Copland's Lark and Schuman's Prelude to Turkish audiences, but a hit was their folksong, Uynadim Sabahile. I'm finishing my own folksong arrangements, or at least 19th-century American hits, e.g. Aura Lee, The Captain, and Ruben & Rachel. And I was recently impressed with the Vienna Philharmonic and Nikolaus Harnoncourt's outstanding rendition of Smetena's 19th-century Ma Vlast, full of folk-inspired tunes. I guess this all shows that a good melody has universal appeal. I'll keep that in mind in my upcoming work! Best Summer WishesPosted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
As summer gets in full swing, at least in the Northern Hempisphere, here's wishing everyone some time to rest and re-charge. Whether you are going to a music festival, the AGO Convention in Washington, or another excursion -- or just hanging out at home -- I hope you may enjoy the beauties of creation and the delights of music. I'll explore the Austrian countryside part of the time and prepare some interesting composition projects for the fall. Stay tuned...Now For Something Completely DifferentPosted on Monday, March 8th, 2010
Three months have flown since my last update. Where does the time go?
In part, I have spent time to bring two bigger compositions to conclusion. The "Credo" of my mass goes back to 1991, but I never got it into the computer (all those words) or worked out the kinks. Now done, its 9 minutes 45 seconds of choir with strings/organ/both satisfy me and keep the original vision. Now I take a deep breath and wait to find out what others think. A few other sections are final, e.g. the "Sanctus & Benedictus" recorded by ERM in Prague last year and due out on CD in 2010.
The other project, started last year is "A Few Plain Hints: William Walker's Words for Singers." It sets advice from the preface to "The Southern Harmony." At times quaint, practical or funny, eleven short excerpts add up to 25 minutes of fun for soloists, chorus and optional piano. Directors and teachers will find flexibility in performance so it should be easy to program and then choristers and audience may become curious about "Singing Billy" Walker and vocal instruction in 19th century America.
Find the works under the "Compositions" tab and listen (only synthesized voices) and let me know your reaction!Holiday GreetingsPosted on Sunday, December 6th, 2009
In this busy time for musicians, best wishes for peace and joy in the holiday season. Thanks to my friends in the Reading (PA) Choral Society, Peter Hopkins, Director, for what I heard was a wonderful performance including "There's A Wideness In God's Mercy" for SATB choir and organ. Appreciation too to Mt. Calvary Lutheran choir in Santa Clarita, CA, programing "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" this month (see above). New on this website is "Aromimcha, Adonia, Ki Dilitani," for tenor solo and SATB choir, which King's Chapel, Boston, will premiere at a concert January 24. Also, new is "Angele Dei," the prayer to the guardian angel. It alternates between four and six parts and serves as a companion to the a cappella "Dona Nobis Pacem," both being good New Year's wishes. The New SeasonPosted on Saturday, October 31st, 2009
Fall is in full swing now in schools, churches, synagogues and concert halls. Bless all you teachers, directors and performers for your dedication! For me highlights of the 2009-10 season include performances in Pennsylvania and Boston. On November 15, the Reading Choral Society includes "There's A Wideness in God's Mercy." Founded in 1875, RCS is one of America's oldest musical ensembles and Reading, Pennsylvania is also my home town. King's Chapel, Boston dates to 1686 and installed New England's first organ. They commissioned Psalm 30 (Aromimcha Adonai Ki Dilitani, I Will Exalt You O Lord) for tenor and unaccompanied SATB choir. It will be premiered January 24 in a concert by the Chapel Choir. One development with "old" music -- nine of my most accessible anthems for accompanied SAB choir are now in one collection spanning the church year, "Rejoice and Sing."CD and IDPosted on Sunday, August 2nd, 2009
The new “Made in the Americas” CD includes a favorite piece of mine. “Snow-Flakes” –- H.W. Longfellow’s poem set for SATB chorus and celesta –- was selected to inaugurate ERM’s contemporary music series under conductor Robert Ian Winstin. Vox Moderne sings it while Jennifer Hunston plays celesta. That’s the C.D. part. I.D. stands for identification and I am launching a new Facebook page featuring music. I’m still setting it up, sending friends there and not to my personal page, and adding sound files. But it’s begun and I hope you’ll visit via the link at left. I.D. could also mean index. Now the expanded HohMade Music index found under Features has active links throughout. They make it easy to hone in on specific pieces, using headings like nature, unaccompanied, Christmas, Psalms, etc. New and Old HohMade MusicPosted on Sunday, June 14th, 2009
"From Heaven There Came A Sound" is my newest piece, which premiered May 31. For children's choir, SATB adult choir, piano and percussion, it was a Pentecost commission from St. Monica and St. James Episcopal Church on Washington's Capitol Hill. Among other fun moments, the children get to sing in a variety of languages and tempos. But we adults enjoyed it too! Tonight is the final rehearsal for my next project. On June 15th & 16th, friends will again be at St. Luke Catholic Church in McLean, VA, to record a variety of compositions for Christmas. One of these, "Christmas Processional," dates back to the 1980's and my time in Lima, Peru. Finally, this site now has seven great new recordings from February 2009: 103rd Psalm; At Cana's Wedding; Light of the Minds that Know Him; Peace Be With You; Stars of the Morning; and There's A Wideness in God's Mercy. Enjoy!Baltics, Here We Come!Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2009
Best wishes to all of you observing Holy Week or Passover in April. On Easter Sunday afternoon, I will fly to Vilnius for Musikanten's tour of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. We will bring some outstanding American choral music to these singing countries, including the miniature masterpieces Aaron Copland's "In The Beginning" and William Schuman's "Prelude for Voices." Repertoire includes Eric Whitacre's "Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine" -- a contender for choral gem of this decade, as well as pieces by Washington-area composers Robert Evett and Russell Woollen, in whom Musikanten and conductor Kerry Krebill specialize. At church services we will also perform my "Dona Nobis Pacem" in six parts, which I'm happy to say our singers really like! Schedule on the "Features" page of this site and, I hope, some pictures and sound files to follow next month. Eight New RecordingsPosted on Sunday, March 8th, 2009
Several talented singers returned to St. Luke Catholic Church in McLean, VA, a few weeks ago to record more of my compositions with the splendid organ and acoustics there. With stellar contributions from Organist Paul Skevington, Producer Michael McCarthy and Engineer Chris Murphy we got eight pieces "in the can." Accompanied selections are 103rd Psalm, Light Of The Minds That Know Him, Not Alone For Mighty Empire and There's A Wideness In God's Mercy. (Dan Elmer played organ on the last one.) Unaccompanied pieces were At Cana's Wedding, Stars Of The Morning, Thus You Shall Say and Peace Be With You. I've now heard the rough mixes and they sound great! Some of these were never recorded previously, so it is exciting to think soon I can share them with you. While I am fond of all these anthems, "There's A Wideness" has a special place in my heart, having been written in Lima, Peru over 20 years ago and not heard since those days. New Year WishesPosted on Thursday, January 1st, 2009
Grant us peace, is my fervent prayer for 2009. So I was thrilled that "Dona Nobis Pacem" premiered New Year's Eve at First Night Alexandria. Written as a personal response to the Iraq war in 2003, this six-part a cappella motet came to life beautifully as performed by Musikanten in the Washington Street United Methodist Church. 2008 was a great year for my music, with performances and premieres in D.C., Montana and Virginia. With a little help from my friends, we made several recordings you may now hear on this site. The new year promises more, including two commercial releases ("You Are God" with the Czech Radio Orchestra and Choir and "Snow-Flakes" with an American chorus -- stay tuned!). In April, Director Kerry Krebill will take "Dona Nobis Pacem" on tour to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; I get to go along. And who knows what else the next twelve months will bring? If you are like me you have many projects and hopes for 2009. Here's wishing you a year full of song and blessings!Blessed Saints & ZionPosted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Last Sunday All Saints Day was observed at many churches, including St. Monica and St. James in Washington, D.C. The choir there sang "Blest Zion, I Love Thee" from my Shaker set, "Sweetest Music." Its heavenward focus fit the day's theme and the congregation enjoyed the jaunty melody handed down from the community at Sabbath Day Lake in Maine. One parishoner told me she caught the tune and hummed along -- quite a feat since it spans an octave and a 10th! The words are great: "earth hath no treasures, sin hath no pleasures, I would exchange for that peace which I feel." This message and music are a great legacy from the past and my setting is accessible for singers and hearers; it was a hit in Montana in June as well. I was glad I could sing along this time!New Recordings!Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2008
It was exciting to hear the complete "Evening Music: Five Sarton Poems" sung by a fabulous group Sunday evening in the wonderful acoustics of St. Luke Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia. Two more recording sessions follow Monday and Tuesday, with the church's stunning Steiner-Reck organ employed on four pieces, played by St. Luke's talented music director Paul Skevington. In all, 15 pieces will be recorded over the three nights, several for the first time. In a few weeks, you'll be able to hear some results on this site. These include a dramatic "You Are God" Te Deum setting, the lovely "Unto the Hills" that still sounds good 20 years after its premiere, the simple Wexford Carol from a couple Christmases ago and the mezzo tour de force in Herbert's "A True Hymn." To all the hardworking musicians and technicians who have helped make this project possible, thank you! Helena Choral Week HighlightsPosted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
What a week we had with Musikanten Montana and Kerry Krebill! The premiere of "Holy, Holy, Holy Is The Lord God of Hosts" for double choir opened the final concert and the singers performed magnificently. (Check back soon for a sound clip.) I enjoyed singing great works like Britten's "Rejoice In The Lamb," Martin's "Mass" for double choir and Thompson's "Alleluia" as well. The preceding day, 15 of us sang a concert of my music at the Myrna Loy Center. "Shout Unto The Lord All The Earth" was our big opening, followed by two Shaker settings and three secular American poem pieces. "Tree-Wise Sayings" closed the concert. It was inspiring to hike the beautiful hills above Helena and come upon a grove planted by schoolchildren after a fire, led by a violinist who accompanied them. The story and scene are a source of local pride, and they drove home the line "One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade." We added "Now May The Lord Take Your Hand As You Go" as a final blessing. We reprised "Holy, Holy..." at the Episcopal Cathedral on Sunday with the two choirs facing each other -- followed by ice cream sundaes! The week was filled with wonderful workshops and mini-concerts ranging from Spain and France to Venice and Texas, with a faculty of superb and engaging soloists. Thanks, Kerry and the rest of you, for letting me be your composer-in-residence this year! Some of the performances can already be heard here on this site and there's more to come.Celebrate Arbor Day, Ascension and Music!Posted on Saturday, April 26th, 2008
Thanks to a bunch of singing friends you can now hear audio files of the following compositions: "Father, the Hour Has Come," "To the Spirit Land We're Hastening," "Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing," "Blest Zion, I Love Thee" and "Peace Be With You," (all four-part pieces). The first one is appropriate for Ascension Day, coming up May 1 and observed the following Sunday if not on the day itself. We also recorded "Tree-Wise Sayings" (secular), which you can listen to in order to keep the spirit alive of this week's Earth Day and Arbor Day. Finally, we made audio files of "Dona Nobis Pacem" and "Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord God of Hosts" (more than four parts). The latter score will be available after its June 28 premiere... Happy listening, whatever you are celebrating!Behold, Behold: Children "Sing Hosanna" on Palm SundayPosted on Sunday, March 16th, 2008
"Behold, Behold Your King" has a powerful text for Palm Sunday by Timothy Dudley-Smith. My setting for children, SAB choir and piano dates from about 1991 (gotta check that!) and I hadn't heard it for years. Today the children of St. Monica and St. James Parish really got into it along with the adult choir and piano, all directed by Mary Bucknum. It was a great opening for Passion Week; for me like getting reacquainted with an old pal. Judging from the congregation's positive comments, for them it was like making a new friend. This performance is now uploaded as the audio file on the page for "Behold, Behold." (To find it, go to Compositions, then Three Parts SAB.)New Winter Piece for Longfellow AnniversaryPosted on Sunday, October 14th, 2007
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow remains one of America's favorite poets two hundred years after his birth. My contribution to 2007's Longfellow bicentennial is "Snow-Flakes" for SATB chorus and celesta. There's a brooding quality as he describes the sky pouring out its grief. I've tried to portray agitation in the storm (mental or meteorological) as well as calm and light prevailing after snowfall. In this time of war and mourning, "Snow-Flakes" offers an introspective element for a holiday program.More Sound Files!Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2007
Almost all compositions on this site now have some kind of sound file uploaded for you to hear. Several have recordings made over the years (mp3 format) with varying levels of recording quality, audience noise and even a couple "oops" moments for the performers. That's part of the thrill of live concert recording! Other, newer pieces have midi files. How these sound will vary from computer to computer, but they should give you a good idea of the overall sound. My favorites? That's like asking a parent to choose a favorite child... But I'd suggest these recordings as a representative sample "Our Father Who in Heaven Art" (Three Part), "Sing A New Song to the Lord" (More Than Four Parts), "Monotone" (Sandburg Poems) and "Girl With 'Cello" (Sarton Poems).New HohMade Music Website Goes LivePosted on Sunday, September 9th, 2007
This month sees the debut of a significant new work -- this website! Now you can easily zero in on specific pieces and pull up details, including the score and sound files. It was a collaboration, with the expertise of Eric A. Smith at Northstar Computer Systems and designer Matt Hopson. There's more to come as we add features, but I hope this launch will make it easier for you to learn about my work and for me to distribute it. New Pieces With Lectionary TextsPosted on Saturday, July 21st, 2007
Four recent anthems for a cappella choir draw from the Sunday readings used in many Christian churches. "Jesus Among the Disciples," "Peace Be With You," and "Father the Hour Has Come" narrate stories from Christ's appearances after the resurrection and quote his words directly. These texts come respectively from the Gospels for Year B Easter 3, Year C Easter 2 and Year A Easter 7 (or Ascension). Similarly, "Thus You Shall Say" draws on an Old Testament lesson appropriate either for Year C Thanksgiving or Lent 1. All are harmonically rich and mark the key quotes with special music, while each reflects the mood and meaning of its specific lesson. So "Thus You Shall Say" would be particularly appropriate for Thanksgiving 2007 and "Father, the Hour Has Come" for Ascension Day or Sunday 2008.Happy New Hear!Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2007
It's a new year with new music to hear! Here's wishing you happiness and harmony in 2007. 2006 closed out with the premiere of "Good People All, This Christmastime," my new setting of the Wexford Carol, at a Christmas Day church service. My young niece Elanor Sonderman singing the beginning solo was a special present. Back to Basics with the Shakers?Posted on Saturday, November 26th, 2006
After visiting Shaker sites in New York and Massachusetts in June 2006 (following the Organ Historical Society Convention), I started exploring the Shakers' delightful music and traditions. "To The Spirit Land We're Hastening" resulted, based on "Faith's Vision" from the Mt. Lebanon colony. It premiered at St. James' Episcopal on Capitol Hill, D.C. in November 2006. So far I've also set "Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing" for Christmas and "Blest Zion, I Love Thee" about heaven. These pieces are simple, as befits the Shaker ethic. Sadly the group is approaching extinction, but they have left a rich lode of texts and tunes.