“HERE” began life as a piece for SATB chorus and piano, but—only because there was something so bravura, so glamourous about it, that suggested an individual, rather than a group—I was never quite convinced that it wasn’t a solo piece. Then Opera America asked for a contribution to their songbook celebrating the opening of the National Opera Center: apparently life is full of second chances. The rest, if not history, is a setting for baritone and piano: Jesse Blumberg and Djordje Nesic sang, and played, the first recording.
A pastiche nestled inside a portrait, this miniature for piano imagines Leonard Bernstein interrupting an antic and digressive conversation with a friend to play through the first draft of an imagined birthday piece for his colleague Jennie Tourel, the mezzo-soprano who introduced his song cycles “I Hate Music!” and “La Bonne Cuisine.” Phone Call and Improvisation is dedicated, with affection and gratitude, to Lara Downes, who commissioned the piece and introduced it at CUNY’s Bernstein Marathon at Elebash Hall on December 2nd, 2017.
A set of five songs for voice, piano and cello, that consider jumper cables, sex, carbohydrates, love, loss, and remembrance; the poets are Linda Pastan, Tennessee Williams, Marge Piercy, Louise Gluck, and Sara Teasdale. The sovereign mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who introduced my Mary Magdalene to San Francisco, sang the premiere with cellist Jay Campbell and pianist Steven Blier, whose New York Festival of Song introduced the cycle to New York in February 2013: we were all so energized by the experience that we recorded the cycle the next weekend.
An arrangement of the central slow movement of Four Angels, for harp and string quintet.
The opera librettist (and dear friend) Mark Campbell and I were at the New York Festival of Song concert when our treasured colleague Steven Blier announced his engagement to James Russell; what could we do but write a song? Matthew Boehler sang the bass-clef premiere, but—because what’s an octave between friends?—a version for mezzo-soprano is available as well.
Avow is scored for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, and either piano or chamber orchestra, and is dedicated with respect and gratitude to Jonathan Sheffer: it was introduced by Eos Orchestra in New York in May 1999.
A three-part chamber music piece for baritone and string quartet based on Billy Collins' original poem. Premiered by Thomas Hampson and the Jupiter Quartet.