Accord Treble Choir will be premiering my a cappella choral piece, “To Soar in Freedom and in Fullness of Power” (poem by Walt Whitman), next month in two NYC performances:
Sunday, June 3, 3:00pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
199 Carroll St., Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, June 9, 6:00pm
St. Ignatius of Loyola Episcopal Church
552 West End Ave, New York, NY
(entrance on 87th street)
Accord’s director, Liz Geisewite, sang soprano in the premiere of “A Prayer in Spring” last summer at the Choral Chameleon Institute. She commissioned me to write this piece for her fantastic ensemble of nine women, and specifically for this concert, titled On Wings. New Yorkers, I hope you can make it to a show!
The Albany High School combined choir successfully premiered “The Gift to Sing” on March 28. I like this recording I made at a late rehearsal, with director Mary banging out the piano part and her very talented students still getting the hang of their parts. It’s raw in a good way.
I'm pleased to announce that I've been commissioned by the Oakland Symphony Chorus for a 20-minute work for full chorus and chamber orchestra. The work will premiere on April 13, 2019 (yes, that's next year), at a venue TBD in Oakland, CA.
The Symphony Chorus is directed by Lynne Morrow, whose name you may recognize as the director of my frequent co-conspirators Pacific Edge Voices. Lynne approached me with a fascinating concept for a multi-movement work: you can read all about it here.
If you go back with me all the way to my rock opera days, you know I love a good epic. I think this one promises to fall squarely into that category. Please save the date and come join me for the unveiling!
This Thursday, March 1, my piece 'A Prayer in Spring' will be performed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chamber Singers, directed by Matthew Oltman. Matt knows the piece well, having conducted the premiere at the Choral Chameleon Institute last summer!
I was able to "attend" a rehearsal via FaceTime last week, and I'm happy to report the piece is in good hands. Matt is a big kahuna in the choral world, with many accomplishments as a countertenor and conductor of Chanticleer, so I'm lucky he's chosen to reprise this piece at UNL. (And I'm more excited than I probably should be that the first three performances of 'Prayer' have occurred in three different time zones.)
Spending any time in Nebraska this week? More information available on my brand-new Upcoming Concerts page!
And having the choral experience I missed the first time around (when I was busy playing guitar in the jazz band—and my rock band, the immortal Flibbertigibbet).
This spring will see the premiere of three commissions I’ve been busy composing for high school choirs. More details forthcoming, but suffice it to say, I am very excited to be writing for some seriously talented students. Quick performance info:
March 20, 2018
Premiere of 'Voices from the Freedom March' (mash-up arrangement of six iconic spirituals)
Sunset High School Concert Choir, Portland, OR
Christopher Rust, director
March 28, 2018, 7:00pm
Premiere of 'The Gift to Sing' (poem by James Weldon Johnson)
Albany High School All-Choir, Mary Stocker, director
Albany Veteran’s Memorial Building
1325 Portland Ave., Albany, CA
Free admission (donations graciously accepted)
Commission for Albany High School Concert Choir, text and more precise info TBD
A composer-led choir will be performing my setting of Robert Frost’s “A Prayer in Spring” this Wednesday at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I’ll be there—hope you can also make it on short notice. The details:
Wednesday, January 24, 7:30pm
SF Conservatory Recital Hall
50 Oak St., San Francisco
'A Prayer in Spring' was the piece I developed at the Choral Chameleon Institute this past summer, and will be conducted by one of my fellow composers from the Institute, Bryan Lin.
If you miss this one, you can hear 'A Prayer in Spring' (along with the world premiere of 'Rose Pogonias') this April 12 and 15 at Pacific Edge Voices’ spring concerts in SF and Berkeley!
Tomorrow (in SF) and Friday (in Berkeley), Pacific Edge Voices will premiere two of my choral works, settings of Robert Frost's 'In Hardwood Groves' and 'Stars', at their holiday concert, The Promise of Living.
If you don't yet have your tickets, you can enter "composerguest" at checkout for a $10 discount. (It pays to know the composer.)
Buy your tickets here!
I attended rehearsal last week, and PEV is doing a beautiful job with this new music. It's a busy, busy time of year, but I sure hope you can take some time out to come hear these pieces draw their first breaths.
Purchase your tickets to hear Pacific Edge Voices perform two pieces from my new choral cycle, Hymns from a Meadow. One is a world premiere, the other a West Coast premiere; I hope you will come share in the birth of these new works!
Thursday, December 7, 7:30pm
The Green Room, 401 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco
(Mindy and I will be attending this one)
Friday, December 8, 7:30pm
The Crowden School, 1475 Rose St, Berkeley
The Hymns bring together four sublime Robert Frost poems to depict an imagined meadow in northern New England as it changes through the four seasons. (PEV will be performing the remaining two Hymns in their spring concert.)
Along with works by Copland, Lauridsen, and others, December's winter-themed concert will include:
In Hardwood Groves (World Premiere)
A mezzo-soprano soloist stands in for the poet, watching the autumn leaves fall and pondering nature’s endless cycle of death, decay, and rebirth. The chorus chants the relentless fall of the leaves, “over and over again,” and underlines the central message of the poem with a solemn refrain: “They must go down…They must go down into the dark decayed."
Stars (West Coast Premiere)
Written in the depths of winter, Frost’s stars “countlessly congregate/O’er our tumultuous snow”. They watch humanity dispassionately, “like some snow white Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes,” sharpening the already keen edge of the night’s “wintry winds.”
Pacific Edge Voices, under Lynne Morrow's direction, puts together very engaging programs and sings them beautifully. They've been performing my work for ten years now, including a number of premieres, and I'm delighted they've chosen to sing the Hymns.
Listen/watch as PEV performs my arrangement of "Hawai'i '78" this past June.
I arranged Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's haunting rendition of this song for Pacific Edge Voices to sing as a full group (SATB with soloists) in this year's Jazz & Pop concerts. Here is a recording and video of one of their excellent performances: June 11 at the Berkeley City Club.
Ah, me. June 23—July 1 in Brooklyn was a glorious time. For those magical eight days, I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the Choral Chameleon Composition Institute, led by the venerable conductor/composer/organist/spiritual guru Vince Peterson.
Alongside eleven other composers and two conductors, I spent every day fully immersed in choral writing, with daily classes in ear training and music analysis, master classes with a variety of choral pros, private lessons with the fantastic composer (and fellow SF Conservatory alum) Jeffrey Parola, and best of all, several days reading and rehearsing original compositions with the amazing professional core of Choral Chameleon.
I brought two pieces with me: “A Prayer In Spring,” which I originally drafted two years ago but had basically left in the bottom drawer until this week, and “O Child,” an original Christmas carol that I finished only a week before the Institute. The choir sang “O Child” in a rehearsal for me, giving me a chance to record it for later revision, but “Prayer” became the main course, and the piece that ended up in the final concert.
Composer Michael T Roberts shares his thoughts on writing, playing, and teaching music. Comments? Please e-mail Mike.