Compositions (By Publisher)
Click on a song title to purchase music.
Alfred Publishing Company
Topsy-Turvy World (poem by William Brighty Rands) – SA, piano (Alfred Music) – COMING 2019!
Santa Barbara Publishing Company
Awake My Song – SA, piano (SBMP 1507)
Awake My Song – SSA, piano (SBMP 1555)
Awake My Song – SAB, piano (SBMP 1514)
I Am Woven – SSA, piano (SBMP 1543)
The Two Faces of Autumn – SA, piano/violin (SBMP 1527)
One River: When Music Is All We Have: – SAB, piano (SBMP 1567) – COMING JUNE 1, 2019!
Fly Away – SSA, piano/violin – Hal Leonard Corporation (HL
Kyrie Eleison – SSA, piano/violin – Hal Leonard Corporation (HL 08742767)
Self-Published – Please use the contact tab if you are interested in these compositions and would like a discount.
Live On – SAB, piano/violin (CFM042106) – Howard High School Concert Choir, Laurel Wacyk, conductor
The Rainbow (poem by Christina Rossetti)
- SA, piano/flute/cello
- SSA, piano/flute/cello – Frederick Children’s Chorus – Judy Dubose, conductor
Run Home: The Ballad of the Little Slugger – SA, piano – Bonnie Branch 6th Grade Chorus, Christopher Fox, conductor
Vere Languores Nostros (Victoria/arr. Fox) – SAB, a cappella – Howard High School Concert Choir – Laurel Wacyk, Conductor
A World of Thanks – SATB, piano and [SA, piano – COMING SOON!] – Glorystar Children’s Chorus – Cherie Jeng, Conductor
World Premier – Glorystar Children’s Chorus – Cherie Jeng, Conductor (Music begins at 1:02)
ABOUT THE SONGS (alphabetical order)
Awake My Song – SA, piano (SBMP 1511) / SAB, piano (SBMP 1514) – Santa Barbara Music Publishing
Commissioned by Caroline Crocker and The Fairfax Choral Society in 2014, Awake My Song is a piece for young choirs which captures the first moment a young performer takes to the stage. The piece begins with text painting of the bright lights, forgotten words, and nerves. After a deep (musical) breath and reassuring looks from the audience, “the piano starts to play.” The music captures the moment when a young musician’s song is awoken and they look forward to the “next time that I feel this way.” Inspired by the writings of two elementary-aged girls, this song was originally composed for an elementary community chorus. It is ideal for young choirs who are looking to experiment with new harmonies in an easy and user-friendly way. The piece has also been performed with middle school treble ensembles working to reinforce pure vowels and proper tone quality.
Fly Away – SSA, piano/violin – Hal Leonard Corporation
Fly Away is a song where two people are forced to part and one of the “characters” gives the other permission to “Fly Away.” This was the second commission for Penn State B-Naturals and the violin part was written because the composer was so moved by the violinist during the premier of Kyrie Eleison, that he felt the need to write for him again.
I Am Woven – SSA, piano – COMING JANUARY 1, 2019! – Santa Barbara Music Publishing
I was commissioned to write a piece by Melody Raef for the 2019 VCDA District I SSAA Honors Choir, which I would also be guest conducting. Somehow, the idea of writing a piece specifically in honor of women and drawing a metaphor of women being like a spiderweb got stuck in my head.
The concept of the beauty and intricacy of the web in juxtaposition to the strength in which it provides really spoke to me. It was crucial to me that the poem, or at least words of the poem be from a women’s perspective (as initially the piece was going to be entitled “I Am”). I set out to find poetry that either used this metaphor or could at least be spun into something (pardon the pun). I had all but given up hope in finding something that would fit this concept, when I was talking with a choir I was conducting at a summer camp. Briana Gresko, the accompanist really liked the idea and asked if she could give the poem a go. A short time later, she had the beginnings of a really beautiful poem.
This was one of those projects that as soon as I had the lyrics in hand, it was three days from start to finish. I tried to use as much imagery as possible with the beginning sounding like the spider descending from on high, on a single strand of gossamer to begin the weaving (which would take form in the repeated section of the music).
Kyrie Eleison – SSA, piano/violin – Hal Leonard Corporation
This profoundly moving work was written following the brutal murder of two young sisters and the outpouring of grief and support that flowed from the community in reaction. This work, featuring a violin obbligato, is beautifully flowing and lyrical and is even more meaningful given the circumstances of its creation. This piece was commissioned by the Penn State B-Naturals treble chorus. “This is the best arrangement of Kyrie Eleison I’ve ever heard!” raves one reviewer.
Live On – SAB, piano/violin (CFM042106)
Central Middle School, Lacy Swauger, conductor
In 2016, Lacy Swauger (a friend of a friend) contacted me to ask if I would be willing to write a memorial piece for an eighth grade student who had unexpectedly passed away. I was honored to be a part of such a beautiful project. I asked her if she could have Peter’s friends and teachers write about him. After reading through the writings, I found common themes that ran through everyone’s writing. Many talked about him being “very proud to be a ginger (red-head).” They talked of his sense of humor, how he’d light the room up when he walked in, his calming effect on the tensest situation, etc. My goal was to create a song in the style of an Irish Blessing (without being overtly Irish) in which he would Live On. The violin part was important in accomplishing this effect.
There are two melodies and a choral refrain (sometimes on “oo”) that run through the piece. Each voice has a piece of the melody and simple harmonies are built around those melodies. The Refrain is used as “his song” and at the end of the piece, the Refrain is sung (with words) a cappella and then repeated (on “oo”) with an optional narration taken from Charles Sumner by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. A violin obligato bridges the different sections of the song.
It is important to note that while the composition was written for the tragic loss of a child, it by no means is only for that occasion. It is a song that can be sung to remember or honor someone and their impact on our life (retiring teacher, graduating students, etc.) in any concert, carrying on Peter’s legacy.
The Rainbow (poem by Christina Rossetti) – avail. SA (CFM042103) and SSA (CFM042104), piano/flute/cello
Two simple, but complimentary melodies are introduced in the piece with an optional descant at the end. A undulating piano accompaniment, combined with a flute (have used oboe) and cello (have used F Horn) countermelodies help create greater texture within the simple framework of the vocal melodies. Achievable by both elementary (on the recording) and middle school treble choruses.
Two of my roles in my life, composer and father, led to the creation of this piece. My children, Lily and Porter were learning to read and we were delighted by their love of children’s poetry and their insatiable appetite for singing. I decided that I wanted to publish a piece for each of them that would be a “gift from daddy,” and would memorialize their innocent, silly, and fun-loving characters.
My daughter’s “favorite color is rainbow.” While I tried to explain that rainbow is not a color but is really white, she was opposed to color theory and adamantly held firm on her own theory. So, when I found Christina Rosetti’s poem The Rainbow and knew this was “her song.”
Run Home: The Ballad of the Little Slugger – SA, piano (CFM042108)
One week after I received the call to commission Live On, Jenn Moss (a friend from grad. school) called and asked if I would be willing to write a piece for a 3rd grader who had passed away unexpectedly. Realizing the toll that writing these pieces may take emotionally, I asked when she was planning on premiering it and she said “next spring, because he would have been in the fourth grade chorus that performs at the end of the year.” I accepted and again asked for writings from friends and teachers, pictures, etc. When these writings, AND PICTURES, came in, the common theme was Cole LOVED baseball!
It was like a lightning bolt struck me with the idea that the piece would be titled Run Home and a melody for the refrain quickly formed in my head. However, I struggled for three months with how to adequately tell HIS story but make it appropriate for 4th graders AND keep the baseball theme. Then the thought came to me…write a ballad in the style of The Mighty Casey that would capture who Cole was, tell the story of his life and eventually the idea that he had “run home.” Within a few days, the poem was complete and the melody quickly took shape. Run Home became Run Home: The Ballad of the Little Slugger.
Written with an upper elementary chorus in mind, there are two melodies and a refrain that move throughout the piece. SIMPLE harmonies sprinkle throughout and a minor section briefly tells of that “fateful day.” In a few rehearsals, the students will be singing this piece down the hallway.
It is important to note that while the composition was written for the tragic loss of a child, it by no means is only for that occasion. It is a story that can be sung easily in any concert, carrying on Cole’s legacy.
Topsy-Turvy World (poem by William Brighty Rands) – avail. in SA (CFM042101) and SSA (CFM042102), piano
This bicinia (melody where the parts are interwoven between the voices) is incredibly easy to teach. The students LOVE the melody and quickly find the whimsical words fun and easily memorable. While one voices sings the melody, the other voice is creating a sense of tumbling with an easily learned ostinato – and then they SWITCH! The accompaniment has as many “tricks” as the original poem and helps to keep the audience in a Topsy-Turvy world.
About ten years after my first publications, my role in life changed. I became a father. As my children were learning to read, they loved to hear poetry. We searched for whimsical poems that would tickle their funny bones. Topsy-Turvy World by William Brighty Rands was one of their favorites. All of the crazy juxtapositions lent itself to a fun, “what-if” world. At the same time, my son, our youngest was turning our house UPSIDE-DOWN! He was like the Tazmanian Devil spinning through the rooms of our house leaving chaos in his path. I had wanted, for quite some time, to begin writing and publishing again and I saw this as a perfect opportunity. I set to work trying to craft a song that would have as many musical tricks and jokes as the original poem. I found ways in both the vocal and piano parts to make the listener feel like they were being caught up in my son’s tornado. When I got to “buttercups ate the cows,” I tried to create an unexpected, melodic twist because that is the line that always got the biggest giggle from my kids. As I approached the end of the piece and had the idea to write the lyrics, “up down, down up…” I thought this would be a great opportunity to take one last crack at the audience. I used pitches going in the opposite direction from the words to create a sense of discombobulation and punctuated it with the final jab in the accompaniment.
The song was a hit. People began asking for a copy to perform and I looked forward to publishing. But life (a.k.a. “fatherhood”) got in the way and the piece sat on a shelf. I am so excited to FINALLY be able to sit down and do the work required to get his off the shelf and into educators’ hands. I hope you have as much fun performing Topsy-Turvy as I had writing it.
The Two Faces of Autumn – SA, piano/violin (SBMP 1527) – COMING JANUARY 1, 2019! – Santa Barbara Music Publishing
In the Spring of 2018, Caroline Crocker, my friend and editor, asked me if I’d be interested in working again with her on a commission. I jumped at the chance to have such a great musician, conductor, and teacher premier another of my pieces (she commissionedAwake My Song). It was simply icing on the cake that the commission was for The Virginia Organization of Kodály Educators’ State Festival Chorus.A few weeks later, she contacted me with her programming idea of a concert built around the seasons. She had a song in mind for each season, but Autumn. Autumn became my assignment. After a very sleepless night trolling the internet for a poem that sang to me (my brain hears melodies when I read certain poems), I found George Cooper’s October’s Party.
It occurred to me that autumn was a two-faced season – the fun part that begins like a party, as Cooper suggests; but also, a hush that falls before the winter. I remembered a lullaby that I had written years earlier and had been holding onto and it seemed very appropriate for this project. I began writing the poem, The Hush Before Winter.
Using as many Kodály concepts as I could possibly pack into one piece, I wrote the “hoedown” in pentatonic and the “lullaby” in Dorian. Caroline had asked for some sort of obbligato and it became apparent to me that violin (fiddle) would fit very nicely in both settings. I added an a cappella section at the beginning with some body percussion, of course showcasing several of the rhythmic concepts that are in the 4th/5thgrade Kodály Methodology, and the piece took form.
I envisioned the a cappella first verse as a sort of “performance art” piece. Consider using paper leaves in the children’s hands as they do the “hand slides,” and then throw them in the air. When the band begins, the students can “conduct” the band. Feel free to experiment with the students. At the end of the piece, the conductor may want to finish with a simple head bow or tilt to complete the circle of “performance art” as they “fall asleep.”
I also strongly suggest auxiliary percussion such as a washboard or spoons in the a cappella section (and the rest of the hoedown) to help keep the energy and flavor of the barn dance. When there are body percussion parts, the aux. percussion should mimic that rhythm. Any other time, they may improvise. Have fun with it!
I am so grateful to Caroline for continuing to believe in me, and to V.O.K.E. for the important “stage.” It is a huge honor to have such a great choir perform one of my pieces.
Vere Languores Nostros (Victoria/arr. Fox) – SAB, a cappella (CFM042107)
Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) wrote this beautiful work based on Isaiah 53:4. It has long been a favorite of mine and, as I look for works of this time period often for my middle school choruses, I realized that this particular piece did not have an SAB “version.”
I set to work to create a piece that was as close to the original work as possible while dealing with the intricacies of the polyphony and canonic entrances. While the soprano line stays true to the original, alto lines often carry alto and tenor melodies while the baritone part was a compilation of the tenor and bass lines but all in the range of a “typical middle school baritone.” With the men’s range from E3-E4 (with an optional 6-note falsetto line – reaching to A4 – for your cambiatas to bring forward and your basses to practice their falsetto), this piece falls well within the bounds for an accomplished middle school chorus program OR for the high school program who is short on men (something a lot of us deal with at some point in our career).
A World of Thanks – SATB, piano (CFM042109) and SA, piano (CFM042110) – COMING SOON!
In the fall of 2017, Cherie Jeng (founder of Glorystar Childrens’ Chorus), approached me with a commission for a long-time board member who was resigning her position. Many of the students and parents are Chinese and so my initial thought was, “I will write a thank you haiku and set it to music.” That’s when the fun began. Cherie told me that the board member was from South America, but her husband was from China. She said she would like something that wove the music of South America and China together, sometimes fast/sometimes slow, but always “fun.”
I began writing A World of Thanks. As I composed, I had those two cultures in mind, and when the two “pieces” were complete, I realized that they could be used as a partner song. I incorporated the languages that all of the children in the group spoke (thanks everybody for the help in pronouncing and spelling) and even incorporated a few languages that they didn’t speak. It was a challenging request, but it actually became a favorite of my editor, the students in the group, and even my family.
Conductors should feel free to add percussion (congas, shakers, etc.) to enhance the world music flavor of this song.