There’s a lot of ground to cover in order to fully explore my catalog, so we’ll cover some highlights here.
Missa Brevis – An a capella SATB mass setting. After studying many a capella settings, I decided to write for a single choir rather than double or antiphonal choirs. Doing so, however, presents some unique challenges in terms of preserving interest and forward momentum (both of which would have been easier if I had used a second choir). The Kyrie is a motet in ABA form, corresponding to the form of the text. The Gloria is more declamatory, and based on Pythagorean harmony (based mostly on 5ths). This is immediately followed by a long, fugal Amen movement. The Credo is a highly compact movement—less than three minutes in spite of the long text—that beautifully paints the meaning of the text. The Sanctus features an expressive baritone solo, which climaxes in an exuberant “Hosanna!”. The Agnus Dei is beautifully contemplative, with the harmony underscoring the text. (more)
India’s Love Lyrics (The Plains , Wistful Wind , Golden Stars ) are based on three poems by Adela Florence Nicolson. A similar harmonic flavor, based on pentatonic chords (1-2-3-5-6 or 1-2-b3-5-b6), unites these pieces. The Plains builds on a chant-like melody and incorporates a lot of word painting, as does the fast-paced Wistful Wind, while Golden Stars makes use of a notational system that allows for great flexibility in performance.
Requiescat is based on the beautifully touching Oscar Wilde poem. This a capella choral song is written as if it were a scene from an opera—a tenor soloist is lamenting at his lover’s grave, while the chorus provides harmonic and moral support.
The Last Flower (text by Ben Johnson) is a lovely song for soprano and piano.
Now Thank We All Our God is a celebratory anthem based on the standard “old” tune, and is written for SATB choir, organ, trumpet, and optional hand bells, with optional congregational singing on the final verse. A new melody was composed that is compatible with the standard harmonization of the tune, and this new melody forms the basis of the piece. This new melody (and a corresponding new harmony) is the basis for the instrumental introduction as well as the first two verses. The anthem culminates at the last verse with a trumpet descant over an arrangement of the standard harmonization, so that the congregation may join in singing the final verse.
Reborn by Living Water was written for a small church choir which was light on tenor and bass voices. While easy for the choir to learn and sing, there is a lot of musical interest, including the counterpoint in the piano and a cleverly hidden modulation towards the end of the music. Appropriate for baptism or Eastertide.
In the Shadow of the Son is a sacred chamber piece for SATB choir and either violin/clarinet/bassoon/cello or organ. Rather long for use in a worship service, but perfect for a choir concert or special church occasion.
String Quartet No. 2 , also known as the Love Quartet, follows in Schubert’s tradition of poetic, tuneful writing and harmonic development. The first movement, Longing, is built from three distinct themes, and is uniquely structured to interweave them in all six possible orderings. The second movement, Courtship, explores the excitement and tenderness of courtship. The final movement, Together, is a dance form which depicts the couple’s journey together.
The Fish Trio, a piano trio originally written for two violas (it was premiered at a recital of teachers from MAVI, a viola institute), tells the story of a fateful trout (think Schubert) in an aquarium (think Saint Saens) who meets an untimely demise (think cats). The Fish Trio is a fun and funny piece that is still musically serious. If you’ve ever wanted to hear a Chopin prelude in 5/4, this piece is for you!
Woodwind Quintet No. 1 is a neat romp through musical themes via a modified rondo form.
Eire’s Call , for string orchestra and piano, combines a highly memorable melody with interesting counterpoint. The structure is somewhere between a theme with variations and a rondo. Like Yorkminster Lights , this piece is not a piano concerto per se, but rather each of the string sections and the piano are equally important, playing as a single ensemble.
King Arthur Suite is a collection of four tone poems for string orchestra and percussion, featuring a varied and interesting sound palette built from the strings (with support from a single percussionist). Each tone poem reflects a significant aspect of the Arthurian legend. For example, Guinevere introduces the maiden, depicts her marriage to the king, and the eventual love triangle that forms, using solo instruments for each character.
Symphony No. 1 introduces a few notable twists into an otherwise traditional form. The first movement is a modified sonata, where a fanfare adds a rondo-like element to the structure. The second movement is a fantasy which builds slowly from a single solo instrument to the full symphonic orchestra. The last movement combines the traditional scherzo and finale into a single movement.