A Call to the Nations
Duration: 4 minutes
This work for womens voices and piano seeks to continue the theme of universal peace and goodwill among nations. The opening melody, inspired by the character of tradtional folk songs (though not one itself) is intended to emphasize the timelessness of this message.
As the music and text are developed in a rhythmically charged fast section, both Hebrew and English are heard. I used both languages because the work was originally written for middle school girls’ choir. From an educational standpoint, I wanted the students to associate the Hebrew with its familiar English meaning by singing in both languages.
The Gift of Peace
Duration: 5 minutesBuy this music
When Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1996, the world was profoundly saddened. His death meant that we had lost not only a great leader, but a central figure in the ongoing peace talks so crucial to Israel and the world.The Gift of Peace
is written in memory of Rabin. Rather than write a kaddish or decidedly mournful work, however, I chose the text of the priestly blessing for its simplicity and universal message of peace and hope that was so central to what Rabin believed in. The text is especially meaningful as it applies to both the State of Israel and Rabin himself. The title comes from the last line of the benediction. The Gift of Peace
can be performed as a stand-alone choral work or together with concert band
Let Earth Be Glad
Duration: 3½ minutes
Set in a thoroughly modern style, this text is from an 1858 poem by John Rollin Ridge entitled The Atlantic Cable. Ridge was a Cherokee Indian who was born in Georgia during a time of great unrest, when the Cherokees were displaced by the federal government and hostilities occured within the Cherokee Nation itself.
As Ridge’s literary career flourished, he sought to address some of those issues in his writings. One would expect, then, his works to be full of anger and grief. What is so striking about this work, however, is its unabashed optimism and celebratory nature. Indeed, Ridge is celebrating a great technical accomplishment of the century, the laying of the trans-Atlantic cable between the United Kingdom and the United States. It was Ridge's belief that such an advancement in communications technology must lead all people to live in kindred spirit, and that peace was necessary for such progress to occur - a theme which was quite relevant to his political and social views.
In researching many texts to set to music, none matched the clarity and appropriateness of this poem, so direct and hopeful in its meaning and still relevant a century-and-a-half later. In the music I strived for the same clarity of expression in a contemporary setting.
O Come, Let Us Sing!
Duration: 4½ minutes
This joyful, spirited work is based on the opening verses of Psalm 95. This ancient text is typically recited in a Friday night Sabbath service, welcoming the end of the week and the beginning of the Sabbath. The opening fanfare is reminiscent of trumpets, or perhaps the call of the shofar, the ancient ram’s horn used to annouce the holidays. In any case, it is a herald, a call to sing joyfully songs of praise.
Technically speaking, for the most part the work is bitonal. The tenors begin singing the highly motivic melody in D major while the basses answer in C major. This whole-tone major key relationship continues throughout the work. Another important key relationship is fairly traditional, that of the tonic and its dominant (e.g. D and A major). In this work I explore them simultaneously, especially during the double canon in the middle of the piece.
Rock of Ages (Maoz Tsur)
Duration: 4 minutesBuy this music
Commissioned by the Manchester Symphony Chorale when I was 17 years old, this perennial holiday favorite features both original and traditional melodies for Hanukkah. It was immediately published by Moon of Hope Publishing and continues to remain popular more than fifteen years later.
When I set out to write a new work for the Hanukkah season, I wanted to write music that was easily recognizable as holiday music, but also original enough to be performed on its own as a concert piece. My solution was to incorporate the traditional Hebrew folk song Maoz Tsur into the work.
However, this is not merely an arrangement of a familiar tune. In fact, that tune does not manifest itself until measure 33, and even then it is harmonized in a fairly non-traditional manner. Most of the work is newly composed material that I felt would complement the pre-existing melody well. For example, the traditional melody, after its initial statement, works its way into a contrapuntal section along with two of the original melodies.
Both Hebrew and English are used in the piece, sometimes simultaneously. I did this with the realization that this music would receive most of its performances in a holiday program with Christmas music, where program notes and translations would not be available.