The big news is that I have started working on a major commission for Philadelphia choir The Crossing. Award winning poet Todd Hearon (who provided the text for Caliban in After-Life, see below) will be creating a new suite of poems for the project. I will post more information about the piece as the details come together. The premiere is set for June 2017 in Philadelphia.
In addition to beginning this new work, a number of projects will come to fruition in the coming months:
- Last spring I was named winner of the Boston Choral Ensemble’s annual commission competition. The score that I created for them uses a delightful text from Shakespeare’s As You Like It: Rosalind (as Ganymede) tells Orlando all the horrible things she will do to him to cure him of his love, all the while with ulterior motives. Archetypal Shakespearian double meaning, assumed identity, and young love. The premiere will be at 8pm on May 13 at First Church, Cambridge, near Harvard Yard.
- Many ensembles are celebrating the 400th year since Shakespeare’s death. It always strikes me as odd that we celebrate these anniversaries of people’s deaths… In any case, I have another Shakespeare premiere this spring — a compilation of drinking songs from various plays, smooshed together into a medley of sorts. The commissioning choir, The Sanibel Community Chorus, is a group I’ve worked with in the past and I am excited to go down and work with them again this February. The piece is a bit of a lark and includes some rollicking stuff and even some kazoos. The premiere will be during the week of March 28 at Big Arts in Sanibel, Florida.
- One other Shakespeare related event will be a repeat performance of Caliban in After-Life at Smith College. This piece was written two years ago in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth. I’m very much looking forward to getting another chance to mount this work. The text is a remarkable poetic invention by Todd Hearon which imagines an additional monologue for Caliban at the close of Tempest. Mary Hubbell, Joel Pitchon, and Judith Gordon will present it at a noon-hour concert on March 9 in Sweeney Concert Hall, Smith College.
- The Seattle Bach Choir will premiere The Fabric of Streams with text by John Muir on Sunday June 5 at Trinity Parish Church in Seattle, WA. I got a chance to work with them when I was out in the Pacific Northwest this past fall for the NCCO conference. The piece includes a number of aleatoric elements and I am looking forward to hearing how they all fit together as they internalize the piece and its eccentricities.
I am pleased to have some of my works included on two CD releases this spring as well:
- Boston pianist Thomas Stumpf has recorded a wide-ranging collection of piano works for a 2CD set on the Albany Records label. The project — Reflections on Time and Mortality — is an audacious aggregation of shorter works by the Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Rakhmaninov, Debussy, Janáček, Yehudi Wyner, and Bartok; with new works written especially for this project by John McDonald, Rebecca Sacks, Hayes Biggs, and Stumpf himself. My Sweet & Twenty will be paired with the Janáček piece that it references. I can’t wait to hear this disc!
- Geoffrey Silver of Acis Productions has recorded a disc of music for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The disc includes George Butterworth’s iconic Shropshire Lad paired with a new song-cycle of mine, also on A. E. Housman texts. The new set — We’ll to the Woods No More — features Silver singing countertenor with Brent Funderburk on piano. Acis has produced a number of very fine discs and I’m proud to be part of their rapidly growing catalog of high quality offerings. The disc is scheduled for release in late spring.