I Shall Not Live In Vain was commissioned by James Jordan and Westminster Williamson Voices for premiere performance in autumn of 2017. This piece is based on a short, moving poem by Emily Dickinson that was read aloud by Steve Pilkington at the 2016 Westminster Choir College Commencement Ceremony. Given the hardships that Westminster has faced in recent years, I cannot imagine a more fitting text to set for a choir on the Princeton campus, particularly when our iconic collective home feels so threatened. It serves as a reminder that in spite of our difficulties, our mission as musicians and practitioners of choral artistry has not changed; to make a difference in one life, any life, is at the heart of it all.


If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

-         Emily Dickinson