Drum Taps: Full recording posted on Soundcloud.com

I have posted the complete recording of the May 15, 2012 premiere of Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War at the website “Soundcloud.” Please share this post with anyone who is interested- conductors, audience members, anyone interested in contemporary classical music, anyone who agrees that classical music can actually make a difference in the world by stirring emotions, thoughts and discussions about serious topics, like our species’ addiction to war…

Here is the link to the audio files (mp3) of the nine movements (in 10 files- one movement has two halves.)


Here are the full texts.

Drum Taps full texts

Here is a link to a short video interview with myself and the conductor about the piece.


Here is a press release with some description of the piece and its premiere.

Drum Taps -press release


Drum Taps at Pacific Lutheran University

I have been out of the country studying gamelan in Indonesia (Bali and Java) for much of the summer, and only now am returning to listen to the recording of my big premiere in May at PLU: Drum Taps: Nine Poems on Themes of War. The good news: the recording confirms what I remembered- it was a superb and powerful performance of what I consider my most important piece. Many thanks to the wonderful performers- professional and students alike!

I will post here a 12 minute compilation (out of a 60 minute piece) of excerpts masterfully selected and edited by my colleague Jeffrey Bell-Hanson who conducted the premiere as director of the PLU University Symphony Orchestra. While it provides just a sample of each movement, it gives a very good sense of what the piece is about, what sorts of musical language it uses, and the very dramatic nature of the composition.

There is a single excerpt from each of the nine movements, so you can count them to know where you are in the overall flow. I will post the entire recording somewhere soon so those of you who wish to spend an hour hearing the whole thing, can…

High Romance in the Horn of Africa: Audio Recording of “You Who Might Be The Moon”

You Who Might Be The Moon

Thirty years ago I came across a book of popular song lyrics from Somalia that struck me as amazingly fresh and intimate, despite their (to me) exotic imagery of lions, tall grass by the sea and tribal elders. I paraphrased them into my own English language poems and set them (perhaps badly) in a now withdrawn choral piece that only saw the light of day briefly during my wedding in the late 1980’s. (It must not have been THAT bad- I’m still happily married!)

A year ago I found these texts again and felt that they deserved to live again and so set them in a new piece with the same title but this time for tenor voice, flute and piano. This is arch romanticism, and no apologies for it a’tall… I’m a card-carrying romantic from the beginning.

For those of you who enjoy theory, the whole piece is built on an octatonic scale- eight notes in the scale in the pattern of alternating whole and half steps. It gives the piece a slightly exotic tonality that you can’t quite put your finger on…

Here are the texts:


Lovely as the lightening in the dawn

I have longed to speak to you.

I have seen you, I have watched you,

I have seen you sitting among the tall grass by the sea.

I long for you as one whose boat in summer winds is blown adrift and lost

longs for land and finds only gray and empty sea.

All your young beauty is to me

Like a place where the young grass sways

After the blessing of the rain

When the sun reveals its light.

My eyes draw me toward your charms

As to a garden at the cliff’s edge.

When you die, all delight will be stilled

By the silence of the earth. So come!

Do not let the voices of the old ones

Drive you from your song.

Until I die, I shall not give up the love song.

Of God, forgive me my weakness.

My heart is single and cannot be divided

And it is fastened on a single hope-

Oh you, who might be the moon…