Thoughtful Responses from
Media, ComposerS, & Singers
Many thanks to Chorosynthesis for a wonderful performance of Zealot Canticle tonight. Inspiring concert. Special kudos to the marvelous soloists; Rachael Colman, Brian Mummert, and Rachel Yoder on clarinet.
Jose Luis Gomez-Aleixandre
I’ve just heard the recording...I have to say that absolutely amazed. Without doubt [this is] the best performance till now of the piece!
“A Clear Midnight”
Wendy Moy and Jeremiah Selvey, and the exceptionally talented members of Chorosynthesis exceeded all expectations tonight. The entire program was designed with incredible insight into the musical poetics and "A Clear Midnight" was just sublime. The performance was made even more meaningful by the dedication of the exceptionally talented singers and their commitment to the nuances of the music.
An exquisite performance of Steven Serpa's LIKE A DARLING was heard tonight!
Chorosynthesis operates on the highest planes of professionalism and their ambitious projects are worthy of encouragement and support. They may very well have set a new standard for choral traditions in the U.S.
“Like A Darling: A Triptych”
It's been a great week working with this talented group of singers and their co-directors Wendy Moy and Jeremiah Selvey…. Chorosynthesis, its directors, and singers were so inspiring and the premiere of LIKE A DARLING was evocative and poignant.
“Canticles for the Holy Innocents”
That was just one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. Bravo to the singers, composers, and conductors of Chorosynthesis Singers!
Sometimes I hear music that's so good I can only shake my head and whisper, "Damn." That's when I realize, I'm praising it with faint damns.
I had such an awesome time singing with this amazing group of people last night! Bravi to Chorosynthesis and the composers that gave us such wonderful music to sing!
This Saturday in Seattle, I'm singing in a powerful program of choral premieres with Chorosynthesis Singers. We hear so much news of war and strife in the world that we often become numb and blind to the fact that each human affected by violence is really someone just like us, with dreams and creative urges and love and hope. There is something about music and poetry that can break down that barrier of "us" and "the other" (Iraq and Syria and Lebanon can seem very distant when we are in our daily routines). Music changing the world? How many times have you been touched by a piece of music to the point of tears? When we are moved like that, we change, we are given a new perspective that has been immensely personalized by our emotion, and we can carry that into the world.
One of the works on the program that I think does such a good job of bringing the listener to that new perspective is "Blue Phoenix." The composer, Kala Pierson, sets to music the words spoken by Iraqi artist Esam Pasha in a radio interview:
"When the bombs were falling, I was crazy enough to get on the roof. I felt I should see this, because artists are the eyes of the culture. It was beautiful — you know?
When all the stores were closed, and Baghdad was really a hot spot, I kept on doing art until I ran out of pigment. There was nothing to paint with, except boxes of crayons. So I mixed up wax paint, using heat. I made thirty wax works: some on cardboard, some on old record sleeves.
The blue one is my favorite. You see the blue color taking over everything, but also reds and yellows penetrating the blues, like flashing rockets penetrating the calm sky."
When I sing that piece, I am the artist on the roof, seeking to find some beauty amid all of the destruction, and I hope that the listener is transported to the same place.
Another very effective piece is "Like a Darling" composed by Steven Serpa on poetry by Naomi Shihab Nye - I will leave you with a quote from that: "What if the air grew damp with the names of mothers? The clear-belled voices of first graders pinned to the map of Lebanon like a shield?"
I hope that some of you in the Seattle area will be able to attend this concert - although the theme is heavy, it is meant to be hopeful, and we end the program with a work celebrating love: "Unleash the Beauty" by Alexander Campkin on poetry by Sappho.
Tonight I will be performing with Chorosynthesis, a professional chorus from all over the U.S. but based in Seattle, WA, directed by Jeremiah Selvey and Wendy Moy. Our concert, "Empowering Silenced Voices," gives a musical voice to people who have been victims of violence and oppression. We are singing pieces about abused children, Hiroshima, turbulence in the Middle East, zealotry, social injustices, women's rights, racial tensions, unrest and terrorism at home and abroad, and love. No matter our lot in life or our core beliefs, this program reminds us of our shared humanity, beauty, and dignity. All pieces on the program are new compositions and premieres in some way, some employ the skill of talented instrumentalists, and all are incredibly challenging and require top notch musicians. Several of the pieces are settings of poet's work, melding two artistic expressions into one unified concert. They are all raw, emotional, sincere, colorful, and beautiful each in their own way. Several have fast become favorites to sing, and there truly is something for everyone to enjoy and relate to on this concert.
Just as important as the concert pieces remembering the oppressed and marginalized are the pieces which inspire hope and comfort, which remind artists of their impact in a hurting world, which remind the passerby citizen that there are people suffering all around them and in different parts of the world. From the Christian genocide in the Middle East, to the homeless and mentally ill, there are so many people who need and deserve our compassion, but we may feel a chasm so wide between us that we become numb or seemingly untouched by the suffering in it. The truth is, in one way or another, we are all affected by the sufferings and joys of others, and we have a moral obligation to respond each according to their own ability. This concert is our response - our way of reaching out, showing that we care, and showing that all lives matter. What better way to represent this universal truth than through choral singing, one of the best cooperative artistic experiences there is? I am honored to be a part of this transcendent concert - it has been quite a growing experience for me as a musician and artist. If you are attending, listen to the texts closely - the way the composers have set these texts is so skillful and appropriate.