Billy Collins songs

With the Covid-19 lockdown, I really miss audiences and the energy they provide! So I decided to post an old performance (Sept. 2014) from my archives that I haven’t posted before. It has that great quality of group shared experience, which is one of the wonderful things about going to concerts and movies don’t you think?
This recording is the first performance of my Billy Collins songs. Anytime art is converted from one medium to another some features of the original are lost. Some things are added by the new medium in compensation, but it’s the nature of the beast that those changes or additions are added by the artist doing the conversion or translation and are outside the original artist’s control. So to allow a derivative work the original artist has to be willing to let go of his creation and let it “have a life of its own”. Billy was very kind to give me permission to use these poems, despite his not being a big fan (to put it mildly) of his poetry being turned into song. Of course, I always try hard to stay true to the original spirit of the poetry and I’m proud of how these songs turned out. But see for yourself.
I can’t say enough nice things about the singer here: Suzanne Gifford. Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but there were a lot of behind-the-scene challenges that she handled with charm and grace. It was a long program and we were near the end. The was no place to warm up so she just had to step up and do it. The songs themselves are not as easy as she makes it seem. And the last song was “hot-off-the-press”, completed maybe a day before, so there really wasn’t enough rehearsal time. Entirely my fault and lead to both of us making minor errors in the third song. Despite all that, she sang wonderfully as you will hear.

Charles Ives birthday

Today marks the 145th anniversary of Charlies Ives’ birth.
What a fascinating inner musical life he must have had as a maverick and a traditionalist smushed together! Not all of his music works for me. But when it does, it is riveting.
I remember the first time I heard his choral Psalm 24. Portions of it are filled with huge dissonant chords. When I closed my eyes, it stopped being singing. Instead, it was easy to imagine I was standing before a terrifying creature, a seraphim, reciting Psalm 24 in a deep otherworldly voice, filled with partials and overtones. Listen to the excerpt and see if you can hear it that way. Especially at the words “and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle.” Gives me goosebumps every time.

choral concert

On Sept. 9th there was a program that included a few of my choral works. A dedicated and wonderful group of singers got together to perform of few of my pieces that had not been performed before, some older, some newer. We coaxed Bill Shortal out of retirement and he graciously agreed to conduct.
Thanks so much to my friends, both old and new, that worked to make this concert possible. I hope we get to do it again with a broader range of music than just my own!
Here’s one of them: Jacob’s Ladder.

Premier of woodwind quintet

Sunday, Feb. 11th, the Alterity Quintet premiered my On Reading Shakespeare at the Timucua White House.
In case you missed it, here are the two middle movements with titles and epigraphs:
II. Nocturne – “Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony.” – Lorenzo, Act V, Scene 1 : Merchant of Venice
III. Serenade – “Let there be no noise made, my friends, unless some dull and favourable hand will whisper music to my weary spirit.” – King Henry IV, Act IV, Scene 5 : King Henry IV Part 2

A big thank you to:

  • Carrie Wiesinger – flute
  • Beatriz Ramirez – oboe
  • Natalie Grata – clarinet
  • Matt Tavera – horn
  • Christian Eberle – bassoon

and to Benoit Glazer for filming and recording.

Realigned

Came across this old piece of mine from the 80s, when I was still doing jazz, called: Realigned.
It’s not bad. Well‚ better than I remembered anyway. Here’s an excerpt, the last minute of the piece.
Listen to: Realigned.

Praise Ye the Lord

Finally had a chance to add this recording of a performance from January 2015 of my hymn: Praise Ye the Lord.

Big thank you to Ben Lane, and the Cathedral Choir from the Cathedral Church of Saint Luke. They really did a great job finding the music hiding in the notes!

Listen to: Praise Ye the Lord.

The Angel Gabriel

This Christmas season (2014), there was a performance of my string orchestra arrangement of the carol The Angel Gabriel.

As commonly happens, there didn’t appear to be enough rehearsal, so the performance is a bit tentative, and the tempo a little too slow, but you can get the idea of what it should sound like.

Listen to: The Angel Gabriel.

Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella

Also, this Christmas season, there was a performance of my string orchestra arrangement of the carol Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.

This performance was perhaps a little tentative, but there was only one rehearsal prior to the concert.

Listen to: Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.

I Hear America Singing

My largest work to premier this year was for a patriotic program, I Hear America Singing. It’s written for Baritone soloist, mixed chorus, and orchestra. The text is from Walt Whitman.

I wrote it with the wonderful voice of Thomas Potter in mind, and was very fortunate that he was available for the performance.

Listen to: I Hear America Singing.

You can also download the text here.

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