I know, I’m about 10 days too late for this sort of post, but it’s been a relatively quiet year in this space, and I thought I’d let you know what I’ve been up to. 2016 was an incredibly exciting year, even if it wasn’t quite as compositionally productive.
In the first 3 months of the year I finished up last details on two choral anthems, Go Up! and Mercy, and placed Perfect Peace with Lorenz. Rivertree Singers (the Greenville community chorus I sing with) returned to the 2016 ACDA Southern Division conference in Chattanooga, invited to sing in the conference’s worship event/ecumenical service. We auditioned into the 2014 conference, and it was a special honor to be invited to the 2016 event, since choirs are accepted by audition only once per four years. The combined choir for this event premiered a commissioned anthem by Howard Helvey, who I met in real life at the conference. Many of us enjoyed seeing the sights of Chattanooga in conjunction with this concert. It’s a pretty cool town! Also during this season, my wife and I announced that we were expecting our first child!
After the Chattanooga ACDA trip, Rivertree Singers began preparing for the 2016 Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC. We have participated in the Spotlight on Choral Music series for several years and enjoyed doing so again this summer. We premiered Peter Anglea’s new piece, The Lord’s Prayer, in this concert. Jen and I snuck in a babymoon at the end of this trip down in Hilton Head and made some wonderful memories.
Additionally, the choir’s leadership turned its focus toward our summer festival, the southeast USA premiere of Dan Forrest’s major work, Jubilate Deo. We realized quickly that, to make our performance successful, we needed to create rehearsal and learning aids for the festival singers. The composer was on board with this idea, and we ended up creating full-length score videos with studio-recorded vocals atop digital orchestra realizations. I supplied the bass and tenor tracks, and Nikki Eoute supplied alto and soprano. This was an incredibly rewarding project to undertake: Nikki and I had early access to a marvelous new choral/orchestral work, and the recordings and videos continue to aid singers around the world in learning this worthy work.
Of course, those videos were merely preparatory—the festival itself was still to come, and it was, we believe, a success. We ended up with 190 singers (that’s 150 voices joining with our choir) and a full orchestra, and the performance was the most memorable concert I’ve sung in. The entire concert is available on YouTube for your edification and enjoyment.
In July I placed Psalm 113 with Shawnee Press. This anthem has bounced around a few times due to odd circumstances, and I’m thrilled it will finally get out there for the church to see and use. Perfect Peace was released in August as a (very early) Spring 2017 anthem. Also in August I got another singing gig, this time a little less high-falutin’: I was a member of the Viking horde on the latest Patch the Pirate CD, Operation Arctic. This was different for me, but a fun bit of singing nonetheless. Also during this season I wrote an anthem with lyricist Michael Pope that’s still looking for a publisher. His text is moving and powerful, and I can’t wait to share it with you soon. Lots of baby prep happened this season, too. Lots and lots, folks :-).
Our firstborn arrived in early October, which was a wonderful, life-changing event. We enjoyed visits from family and kind meals provided by families at our church. This month was consumed with trying to figure out parenthood.
Just days after the birth of our son, we learned that my childhood piano teacher and family friend, Becky Wheeler, had passed away from cancer. Becky was deeply comforted by singing towards the end of her life, and several of us that had practically grown up in her home as her son’s friends met and sang hymns for her several weeks before her passing. I’d just received Perfect Peace back from the publisher and sang this for her as well. She took great comfort in this music, and I sang it (quite tearfully) at her funeral. Through this very sad circumstance I was struck with the power and effectiveness that good sacred music can have.
November: I’m a new dad and I have to be honest, I don’t remember this month. There was turkey towards the end?
December brought one last singing gig, with a Presbyterian church in town. Then Rivertree Singers closed out the year with a Christmas Evensong, performed at two venues here in Greenville. It was an enjoyable and well-received concert, and you might see some selections up on YouTube sometime in 2017.