Some of the most fulfilling work that I engage in is the telling of historical stories through music. It allows me to provide a voice for the voiceless; to memorialize individuals, groups and movements in musical compositions that serve to honor important moments in our collective global history, as well as to shed light into the often forgotten stories of our past. These compositions have taken the form of short choral works, solo vocal and solo piano works, and even full-scale choral-orchestral compositions.
Interested in commissioning a special historical work?
Our history is full of stories that can make for compelling musical works. Local folk heroes, war narratives, heart-rending disasters - many of these stories can teach us lessons about the human experience that we may be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Below are three recent examples of my projects. If you are interested in pursuing a similar project based on a historical figure or event that you are familiar with, please feel free to contact me or email me a proposal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Project - The Nancy Luce Commission Consortium
This opportunity is currently still open to choirs around the world for participation, with the premiere performances taking place in Spring of 2019. The new work, commissioned by a consortium of choirs, will serve as a companion piece to Benjamin Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, and will be based on the writings of Nancy Luce. Luce lived on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts in the 1800s, her only true companions being the chickens that she loved dearly and cared for. In addition to sacred writings of her own styling, much of the poetry that she wrote from her little farm house concerned her feelings of grief at the loss of her favorite chickens and her hope for mankind to display more kindness to the “poor dumb beasts” of the earth. You can read more about this project, my recent research trip to Martha's Vineyard, and the remarkable story of Nancy Luce here.
A few years ago I was commissioned by Scottish Baritone Niall Anderson to compose a new solo vocal work based on the World War I POW diaries of his great-grandfather, Private John Anderson. A member of the First Gordon Highlanders, Private John Anderson fought in the battles of Mons and Le Cateau before being taken prisoner and spending the rest of the war in a POW camp. The first-hand accounts contained within his journals are intensely descriptive and horrifying, juxtaposed with moments of haunting stillness. When daylight came... was premiered in Aberdeen Scotland, and has since seen repeat performances in London at the Royal Academy of Music.
A Child's Requiem is a large-scale, 45-minute work for soprano solo, choir, children's chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Marquette Symphony Orchestra in remembrance of the victims of the Italian Hall disaster. This event, which had a direct and lasting impact on the current socio-economic climate of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is one of the most heartbreaking stories to come out of the American Midwest in the 20th century. On Christmas Eve of 1913, a party for the children of striking copper miners was being held in the Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan when a man entered the hall and shouted "Fire!" several times. His actions led to a panicked stampede for the exit, which resulted in seventy-three people, the majority of them children, being smothered and crushed on the stairs leading down to the street. The perpetrator was never apprehended or made to pay for his horrendous crime. All that remains of the Italian Hall today is the stone arch that led to the stairway, a memorial to the innocent lives that were so needlessly taken that night. A Child's Requiem was premiered in 2013 for the 100th anniversary of the disaster.