I’m excited to have a new piece on the program for this Sunday’s Nashville Composer Collective concert, a setting of a favorite poem by 13th century Persian poet Rumi for voice and chamber orchestra. Over the last couple of years, I’ve immersed myself in the world of choral music, studying pieces like Samuel Barber’s “Prayers of Kierkegaard” and “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” Mahler’s song cycles, Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms,” Henryk Górecki’s choral works, and contemporary composers like Eric Whitacre and Rob Mathes (Rob’s album Orchestral Songs is in frequent rotation at my house). Just last weekend the Nashville Symphony performed Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, a brilliant, moving work that combines a large orchestra, choir, soprano soloist, and off-stage children’s choir singing the traditional requiem text in Latin, with two male soloists singing the poetry of Wilfred Owen, accompanied by a small chamber orchestra; I ordered a copy of the score as soon as I got home. “Hundreds of Ways” is my first attempt at contributing to this genre.
When I first started working on my piece, I was listening to Sarah Masen’s recent projects, A History of Lights and Shadows and The Trying Mark, and kept hearing her voice singing the melody I was writing, so I asked her if she would do me the honor of performing it and she generously agreed. She’ll be accompanied by 17 string players, flute, English horn, bass clarinet, French horn, and harp.
The concert is this Sunday afternoon, June 7th, at 3:00 in Lipscomb University’s Ward Hall. Admission is free (although a suggested donation of $5 would be appreciated to help cover the costs of the piano tuning, etc.) and the program looks like it will be a lot of fun: one other vocal piece by a composer new to Nashville, Cristina Spinei, a jazzy setting of a traditional Chinese folk tune for piano trio by Carl Marsh, a piano/violin duet by John Darnall, and more. I’d love to see you there!