Accord Treble Choir is back in action: the nine outstanding singers who premiered my setting of "To Soar in Freedom and in Fullness of Power" last year will soon premiere my newest piece, "New England Song," on June 8 and 15 in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY in their program entitled Longing.
Actually, the song is not that new. I wrote it in 2004—on the ukulele—in a fit of homesickness for the land of my birth. As I detail in my program note, I sang it only once in public, but have been singing it in my head ever since. When Accord director Liz Geisewite asked me if I'd like to contribute a piece to their Longing concert, I cast about for a while before realizing I'd already written just the thing.
Just two days to go! I can hardly sit still.
The Oakland Symphony Chorus, accompanied by a 24-piece chamber subset of the Oakland Symphony, will premiere Mass for Freedom this Saturday, April 13, at 8:00pm at the First Congregational Church of Oakland.
Last chance for advance tickets!
Meanwhile, please enjoy this very cool sneak-peek video the Symphony made to promote the show. It features rehearsal footage, interviews with me and Lynne, and me being unprepared when the videographer asked me to sing and play part of the Mass at the piano. (Fun fact: the videographer is also the director of the Oakland Youth Symphony, Omid Zoufonoun.)
Meanwhile, back in Oakland...
Only three-and-a-half weeks until the Oakland Symphony Chorus premieres Mass for Freedom!
Saturday April 13, 8:00pm at the First Congregational Church of Oakland.
Hope to see you there.
Mass for Freedom re-explores the sacred roots of five African-American spirituals that became anthems of protest during the Civil Rights movement. Scored for large mixed chorus and a 24-piece chamber orchestra, the work combines the spirituals with text from the Latin Mass Ordinary (in English translation) and additional words by a certain Michael T. Roberts, M.M., A.B., D.A.
Advance tickets are $20. All seating is general admission.
Oakland Symphony Chorus Spring Concert
Lynne Morrow, director
Saturday, April 13, 2019, 8:00pm
First Congregational Church
2501 Harrison St.
A very merry belated Thanksgiving to all of you!
Two choral works by yours truly will be performed in December, including the world premiere of my very first choral Christmas work, 'O Child'!
If you're in the Bay Area or NYC, I hope you'll come hear these excellent concerts.
(Click on dates for venue and ticket information.)
December 7 (Manhattan) and December 9 (Brooklyn)
Dessoff Choirs perform 'To Soar in Freedom and in Fullness of Power'
If you missed the world premiere back in June, here's another chance to take flight with my setting of Walt Whitman's inspiring poem, scored for women's chorus—part of Dessoff's Welcome Yule program. Why is this piece, which has nothing to do with Christmas, on a Yule program? It's because Dessoff is spending this entire season celebrating Whitman's 200th birthday. Joyous Yuletide, Walt!
December 8 (Berkeley) and December 15 (San Francisco)
International Orange Chorale premieres 'O Child'
(Free admission, donations gratefully accepted)
My first Christmas-themed choral piece, 'O Child' also marks the first time I've penned my own choral text. It's written from the perspective of Joseph and Mary, imagining what they might have been thinking and feeling when they first beheld the newborn baby Jesus. It is very much inspired by my own experience as a father of two. My goal was to write something like all my favorite Christmas music: simple and beautiful.
'O Child' was chosen from an open call for scores for International Orange's Freshly Squeezed program, so you will hear a number of really interesting, brand-new works at this concert. I've been to several IOC concerts and they are consistently excellent—in fact, I've been bugging them to sing my stuff for quite a while now, so I'm truly delighted to be on their program.
I'll be attending the Berkeley concert on December 8—I hope to see you there!
I've been quiet these past several months, and that's because I've been happily elbow-deep in my commission for the Oakland Symphony Chorus, now with an official title: Mass for Freedom.
Please mark your calendar for the premiere: Saturday, April 13, 2019!
We now have a venue: the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St.
(I do not yet have ticket information; as soon as I find out, you'll be the first to know.)
As I type, the piano/vocal score is complete and on its way from the copyist (piano/vocal means the vocal parts are entirely finished, with a piano accompaniment for rehearsal only), and I have recently broken ground on the fully orchestrated version of the final movement.
[Newsletter readers, view in browser to hear streaming audio, or download here. About 6 min. long]
The Albany (CA) High School vocal department, led by director Mary Stocker, commissioned me to write two pieces for them this year. The first, The Gift to Sing, is a soul-pop tune premiered in March by the AHS "All-Choir" (i.e., all the singers in the dept.—a big group!)
The second, Our Names, is a whole different animal. Sung by the more select Chamber Singers, in a more classical (but still contemporary) style, the text for 'Our Names' was penned by a student in the ensemble, Harpreet Kaur.
Lucky for me, the Chamber Singers professionally recorded several pieces this spring, and 'Our Names' was one of them.
You can download the recording for free on the Albany High Vocal Department website. Their work is thoughtful, precise, and profound—far beyond their years. I'm very proud and grateful to have worked with them.
More on the piece, including text, here.
Kindergarten Hooray, baby! I wrote this Kindergarten theme song in collaboration with my phenomenally entertaining students at Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley for their spring concert. My first French/bilingual creation. (It's a good thing "Hooray" rhymes with so many French words.)
Composer Michael T Roberts shares his thoughts on writing, playing, and teaching music. Comments? Please e-mail Mike.