The timely "Daybreak in Alabama" voices the poet's dream of racial harmony, while "Georgia Dusk" paints a haunting image of lynchings in the South of the 1950s. "Song for Billie Holiday" concerns the first incarceration of the great jazz singer, and "April Rain Song" evokes childlike wonderment at nature. The song cycle was written for soprano Amy Bartram who premiered it at St. Mark’s Church and recorded it in 2009. The title song was featured in the nationally broadcast radio series, “Song of America,” hosted by Thomas Hampson. In 2013, the set had its Paris premiere with Jill McCoy as vocalist backed by members of the Trans-Atlanticisms Trio. Recently, Met opera soloist Molly Fillmore sang the set (along with the world premiere of "Quiet Girl") at the University of North Texas.
"From Blossoms" (1993) sets Li-Young Lee's poem to music. In this 2007 performance at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, NYC, I accompany soprano Amy Bartram from the piano. For my William Blake settings ("The Lamb" and "The Tyger"), we are joined by violist Scott Wagner. For more on Amy Bartram, click here.
1) Blow Northern Wind Soprano (Jolle Greenleaf), viol consort (Marie Dalby, Jay Elfenbein, Motomi Igarashi, John Mark Rozendaal), theorbo (Dan Swenberg) 2) Flight viol consort (MD, JE, MI, JMR), theorbo (DS) 3) Morte, perche m'ai fatta si gran guerra? (excerpts) Soprano (Jolle Greenleaf), Parthenia (viol consort: Beverly Au, Lawrence Lipnik, Rosamund Morley, Lisa Terry) 4) Menschliches Elende (Video) Sopranos (Jolle Greenleaf, Amaranta Viera), viol consort (MD, JE, MI, JMR)
In 1992 I was introduced to music from the centuries leading up to Bach, and it was love at first sound, a period of intense discovery and exploration. The results of this immersion were twelve experiments in which I set to music early poems in French, Italian, English and German on the themes of Nature, Death, and Love. I did not attempt to copy any single composer's style, but rather tried to place myself in the country and historical period of the poem, seeking through creative exploration a better understanding both of the texts and their musical milieu. The songs have been performed throughout the Northeast and Europe, with performances by noted groups such as Parthenia, the New York Consort of Viols, and vocalists Amy Bartram, Jolle Greenleaf, Amaranta Viera, and Sandra Wright.
The Queen's Chamber Band commissioned several works for their 2007 showcase at Merkin Hall in Lincoln Center. "The River Is Moving" is performed by Robert Zubrycki (violin) and Peter Seidenberg (cello). The artists are joined by harpsichordist Elaine Comparone for "A Touch of Bluegrass," which uses the two manuals of the harpsichord to convey dueling banjos.