I composed my Piano Quartet #1 in 2018 on commission from my friends, the Northern Third Quartet: Sofia Hirsch, violin; Elizabeth Reid, viola; John Dunlop, cello; and Alison Cerutti, piano. The work is in six movements. Movements II and V are solo movements for viola and cello, respectively, while Movement III is a duet for violin and cello. Movements I, IV and VI are for the entire quartet. Here is a recording of the Northern Third Quartet’s third performance of the work in October, 2018:
My second string quartet was written in late 2007 and early 2008 on commission from the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph, Vermont in honor of its 100th anniversary. It’s a five-movement work in which movements I and II are played without pause. The same is true of movements IV and V. Here is a recording made at the premiere performance in March, 2008, performed by the Chiara String Quartet, for whom the work was written:
Glimpses of Azure is a four-movement work I composed in 2013 on commission from the wonderful Boston-based conductorless string orchestra, A Far Cry. Here is a performance of the work by them that took place at the Gardner Museum in Boston in December, 2013.
I wrote this short fanfare in 2014 on commission from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, in honor of their 80th anniversary. Here is a performance by them from March, 2015, with Music Director Jaime Laredo conducting.
Trajectory of Flight is a cycle of six songs for mezzo-soprano and strings. The work was written in 2011 for a concert of some of my choral and vocal works. All poems are by Vermont poet Jean L. Connor. Here they are:
NOW, IN MARCH
Outside, drifts of brazen snow
and the bitter hour glass of cold.
Inside, pressed against the pane,
pots of green and the first white
geranium, tenuous, unfolding.
And hidden deep within, the stubborn
candle of my will, ablaze,
steady, before that duality,
death, a February thing, and life,
which reaches out to April
and on occasion sings.
ALLEGRO: A MAY SONG FOR
NESTING SWALLOWS AND FLUTE
Lay claim my love. This flowering
tree is ours, this sweet aperture
our home. Now the high notes,
reedy, clear. Listen. Music, dipped
in azure, ripples towards the sun.
Ascend. Ascend. Join forces
with the flute. Come breast the sky,
the gentian sky. Turn. Turn.
Scissor the fabric, release the tethered world.
Down in the woods,
a thrush repeats
the measured triads
of his flute-like song,
recounts the old rhapsodic tales
of lost serenities and peace.
As darkness deepens,
his voice grows still
and I am left
in a thin white cup,
Everything was made of time:
the apples, green, the milk-weed pods,
split and drying, the seeds,
All was movement and becoming,
clouds cartwheeled through space,
never arriving. Day held
no fixed point, only urgencies
and the tattered banners
of the hours. At last,
the longed-for darkness came,
hollowed out, shaped as night.
Then, not as an intruder,
but as one accustomed to the place,
the hour, a cricket began to sing,
steady, sure, and as he sang
the world slowed to meet
his pace, found itself webbed
about in peace. The grasses–
sleep-heavy, wet with dew.
KEEPING THE SILENCE
If you listen,
you hear apples fall
and the low nasal complaint
of a nuthatch.
In the distance,
a man hammers, a dog barks,
the church bell
mingles with the cry of asters.
In the wind-dipped silence,
I hold a space apart:
the call of jays
cannot reach me.
I have become amenable
to purple, the savor of grapes,
the waning of crimson,
the fall of leaves.
Now in October,
I sing a slow song,
praising the gold
Quick flight of a bird
across the field that lies
outstretched before the night.
Only silence in the going.
Late, late. And a cool mist rising.
Unknown the name,
unknown the color,
the only certitude,
the dark trajectory of flight.
All poems taken from A Cartography of Peace, published by Passager Books, 2005. Copyright 2005 by Jean L. Connor. Used with permission of the poet.
The performance is by mezzo-soprano Wendy Hoffman, Sofia Hirsch and Laura Markowitz, violins; Elizabeth Reid, viola; John Dunlop, cello; and Evan Premo, bass; conducted by me.
A Voice in the Night is a work for bassoon and piano that I wrote in 2015 for bassoonist William Short, principal bassoonist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York, and Bryan Wagorn, pianist and assistant conductor at the Met. This recording is of the premiere performance in New York City, November 15, 2016, played by Billy and Bryan.
A Fleeting Animal, the opera I created in 1999 and 2000 with my friend, the late poet and playwright David Budbill, was first performed in 2000 and then received a second run of performances in a newly-revised version in September, 2015. This latter set of performances featured a stellar cast of singers and the instrumental ensemble TURNmusic, all under the stage direction of Margo Whitcomb and the musical direction of Anne Decker. The opera is set in a small, northern Vermont town in the early 1970’s and is the tragic story of Tommy, the returning veteran who is haunted by his military service in Vietnam, and Grace, the much-maligned single mother with whom he falls in love. It touches on life in small towns, PTSD, poverty and racism, as well as the beauty of Vermont and the joys of the seasons, particularly the short, but vibrant summer. The music includes a number of styles, including the influence of contemporary concert music, jazz, blues and Quebecois folk song. We have now made the video available of the final performance at Chandler Center for the Arts, Randolph, Vermont, September 20, 2015, complete with subtitles. The film and subtitle work was done by Jeff Tolbert.
Here are the Vimeo links:
Act I (Please note that these are very large files and may take quite a bit of time to load; be patient!)
Summer is a work I composed in 2011 specially for a concert of my choral and vocal music. It uses a beautiful poem by Jean L. Connor, a wonderful Vermont poet who is still with us at the age of 101 as of this writing in summer of 2020. Here is the poem:
should be as this one, suspended
and the slow coming on of stars,
the great bear first, then the jeweled
crown. Let every solstice pause,
linger in a meadow, imagined
or real, blue with lupine,
the fields wide, the self small,
a place afloat between this
fixed earth and the transparencies
of clouds. Give silence room,
there anger seeps away. Out of the hidden,
fireflies may come to semaphore
a blessing. Beneath the deepening sky,
bright wands and an old cartography of peace.
Poem taken from A Cartography of Peace, published by Passager Books, 2005. Copyright 2005 by Jean L. Connor. Used with permission of the poet.
This performance is by Voces Dulcissimae, conducted by Larry Hamberlin