TitleVoicing or InstrumentationTypeDescriptionDuration
Above the Green NightGuitar quartetChamber

Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Poem of the Deep Song” is steeped in strong, beautiful imagery of love and death. I took some of these images as points of departure for Above the Green Night. The first movement, Blind Archers, is fast and unsettled like a chase, interspersed with two brief dream-like sections. Each player is given a chance to rest and sing in the second movement, Hour of Stars.

Commissioned by The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet  

Alma Beata et BellaSSATB a cappellaChoral

I found the poem from which the text for this piece is excerpted when perusing an old book of 15th-century Italian poetry. I decided to set the poem in its original Medieval Italian dialect. The piece is a six-minute slow swirl of voices moving toward heaven and light. It culminates by “blooming” as the soul reaches heaven.

Commissioned by the Rose Ensemble with major funding support provided by a grant
from the Jerome Foundation facilitated by fiscal agency from the Schubert Club.
Additional funding provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

Commissioned by the Rose Ensemble with major funding support provided by a grantfrom the Jerome Foundation facilitated by fiscal agency from the Schubert Club.Additional funding provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

Amy Lowell: A Rare PatternMezzo-soprano and pianoOpera & Drama

An excerpt from program notes by mezzo-soprano KrisAnne Weiss:

Early 20th-century poet Amy Lowell was an unforgettable figure: at five feet tall and 250 pounds, she smoked cigars in public, captivated audiences with her theatrical speeches and poetry readings, and relished the attention she attracted. This collection of songs is excerpted from a longer theatrical work which explores Amy's life and her relationship with actress Ada Dwyer Russel. With the exception of one or two sentences, the entire libretto of this piece is comprised of Amy's juvenilia, poetry, prose, and epistolary exchanges with other writers. There are also letters she wrote to "Nell," the actress and arts patron Eleanor Robson Belmont, who was one of Ada's closest friends. Unfortunately for modern literary voyeurs, scholars, and would-be librettists, Amy requested that the letters she exchanged with Ada be destroyed upon her death. Ada honored this wish, thus depriving us of the most important firsthand account of Amy and Ada's dynamic. It seems, however, that the voice that Amy reserved for Ada comes through in the poetry, and this passionate and tender voice forms the heart of these songs.

Apparent SolidsMezzo-soprano, flute (doubling piccolo), percussion, violin, viola, celloSolo Voice

These poems, by Minnesota poet Joan Wolf Prefontaine, offered many wonderful coloristic possibilities and deal with very deep, emotional aspects of life and the passage of time. Ideas of life as both circular and linear informed my musical decisions in Apparent Solids. The cycle opens with a piccolo tune that represents ‘the boy.’ The cycle also ends with the piccolo tune, so it sounds as if the piece could begin all over again. The cycle incorporates music that is circular and repetitive as well as music that is very linear—where the listener is not sure where the next turn will be.

Bells, TheSATTB or SSATB a cappellaChoral

Originally written for SATTB one-on-a-part, this sprightly and tintinnabular piece works well for both large and small choirs. It’s a setting of one of Edgar Allen Poe’s more cheerful poems, and is well-suited for holiday programming.

Commissioned by Dr. Richard and Mrs. Louise Varco for Dare to Breathe
Premiere Performances:

December 11, 2000, Schubert Club Concert, Abbott Northwestern Hospital Chapel, Minneapolis, MN;

December 17, 2000, Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN;

December 28, 2000, University Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis, MN

Commissioned by Dr. Richard and Mrs. Louise Varco for Dare to Breathe
Premiere Performances: December 11, 2000, Schubert Club Concert, Abbott
Northwestern Hospital Chapel, Minneapolis, MN; December 17, Minnesota
History Center, St. Paul, MN; December 28, 2000, University
Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis,
Between the Limbs, MusicSoprano and pianoSolo Voice

"Between the Limbs, Music" is a set of four songs that deal with themes of love, life and death. "The Book of Hungers" establishes the idea that we are all connected by our mortality and desire for love. "Hummingbird" moves into the wonderful realm of young love—pure, fantastic passion. "Autumn Dusk" is about mature love – a love that has endured. "Between the Limbs, Music" reflects on the paradox of life – there cannot be joy without sorrow, passion without solitude or life and love without death to drive us forward, make us yearn. It ends with a soaring “ah” – an expression of joy and passion.

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for Carolyn Campfield

Bike Let Loose, TheSSAA and pianoChoral

This work was co-commissioned as a special project in the year 2004
by the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota
and the Minnesota Music Educators Association

A bright, athletic piece for treble choir and piano. "The Bike Let Loose" uses rapid notes and soaring melodic lines to create a fantastical ride for both singer and listener.

This work was co-commissioned as a special project in the year 2004 by the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Music Educators Association

Birthday, ASATB div. a cappellaChoral

"A Birthday" was composed for Floyd Farmer and the Camerata Singers of West Michigan in commemoration of their 25th Anniversary. The Christina Rosetti poem is about a birthday, and its many references to silver were perfectly suited to a “silver” anniversary. I played with the birds in the poem by weaving bird songs throughout the piece, which begins with the women’s voices chirping “cherry up cherry dee.” The Muskegon Chronicle called the piece “delicate and sprightly with a foundation of dignified solemnity.”

Commissioned by the Camerata Singers of West Michigan
for their 25th Anniversary Concert

Commissioned by The Camerata Singers of West Michiganfor their 25th Anniversary Concert
Premiered by: The Camerata Singers, Floyd Farmer, conductor

Blue JewelFlute/Alto Flute, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, Piano, Electric Guitar, ContrabassChamber

“Blue Jewel” is a small snap-shot of a huge idea. This idea is the experience between a "zoomed out" versus "zoomed in" view of the window. Close up, one sees how striking and arresting the images are. Further out, the violence of the battle between Carnival and Lent obscures slightly as one backs away - like the famous image of Earth from space and how existence on this planet (close up) can be tumultuous - war, extinction, political unrest, climate change - but from far away, Earth is a perfect blue jewel floating in space.

for fivebyfive

Bow EchoSolo amplified celloSolo Instrumental

I often use a non-musical idea as a point of departure. In the case of Bow Echo, this idea came in the form of a lightning bolt on a Sunday morning in July. Lightning struck my house, blowing a hole in the roof, splitting wood in the eves, taking out all electrical outlets and appliances. I was blown away by the power of the storm, and Bow Echo was born. A Bow Echo is a formation of storm clouds that usually spawn severe storms with high winds, hail, dangerous lightning and possible tornadoes. The three movements follow the life of a storm from slow approach to violent rage to eerie calm.

Commissioned by the Camerata Singers of West Michigan
for their 25th Anniversary Concert

For Libby Larsen
Premiered by: Thomas Rutishauser

Butterfly EffectSolo Piano // Flute in C (doubling alto flute and piccolo), Oboe, Clarinet in Bb (doubling bass clarinet), Bassoon, // Horn in F, Trumpet in Bb, Tenor Trombone // 2 Percussion (suspended cym., tam tam, marimba, vibes, xyl., snare drum, 4 tom toms, claves, bass drum) // Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Violoncello, ContrabassInstrumental

Commissioned for Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble under the auspices of a McKnight Artist Fellowship and Jerome Composer Fellowship.
Premiered by: Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble

"The edge of chaos is where life has enough
energy to sustain itself and enough creativity
to deserve the name life.."
-Frank L. Wolf

Cancion de el Alma: en una noche escuraSATB divisiChoral

Cancion de el Alma: en una noche escura was commissioned by Classical Minnesota Public Radio for the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and premiered at the Cathedral of Saint Paul on November 22, 2013 (recorded by MPR). Hailed as a "masterpiece" (Chicago Tribune), the piece has since received its European premiere in February/March 2015 by the Nederlands Kamerkoor under the direction of Daniel Reuss. 

The text, often referred to as “The Dark Night of the Soul” is one in a trilogy of poems written by 16th century Spanish mystic St John of the Cross. The message of the poem that I found most moving is the idea of allowing the fire that burns in my heart to guide me. 

Carolina ParakeetSATB divisi chorusChoral

from Spectral Spirits

Circle of the RiverSS & percussionChoral

This piece explores the linear and cyclical aspects of flowing water, and pays homage to the great Mississippi River. The linear and cyclical parts of the piece mimic the flow of the river from one point to another and the cycle of rain and evaporation that happens simultaneously. It was commissioned by the American Composers Forum for Minnesota’s Sesquicentennial, and premiered at the Minnesota State Fair by the Minneapolis Youth Chorus.

Clay JugSATB div. a cappellaChoral

Taken from the larger work A Sound Like This, "Clay Jug" was originally written for 9 male voices. This arrangement incorporates treble voices and calls for the listener to reflect on all of the wonders that are contained within us. We are all the "Clay Jug". We are sturdy, strong, breakable and fragile. All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions of stars...

This SATB setting of "Clay Jug" was commissioned by Dr. Robert Bode for the University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory Singers

Premiered by The First Readings Project, J. David Moore; conductor


Cold Blue NightSolo fluteSolo Instrumental

Cold Blue Night for solo flute came into being shortly after I moved to Minnesota and braved my first upper-midwest winter. It was inspired by the kind of Minnesota night when the sky is dark, dark blue, the temperature is well below zero, and a full moon lights the snow with a pearl-blue glow. It is beautiful, pristine, yet cruel and dangerous. This piece explores the harshness and the soft beauty of a frigid mid-winter night.

Cold Blue Night for solo flute came into being shortly after I moved to
Minnesota and braved my first upper-midwest winter. It was inspired by the
kind of Minnesota night when the sky is dark, dark blue, the temperature is well
below zero, and a full moon lights the snow with a pearl-blue glow. It is
beautiful, pristine, yet cruel and dangerous. This piece explores the harshness
and the soft beauty of a frigid mid-winter night

Commissioned and premiered by Wendy Greenwald Matthews, flutist

Dazzle of DaySATB div., S, A, T soloists, solo guitarChoral

Pablo Neruda’s poem, “Deslumbra el dia” (Dazzle of Day), finds beauty in simple things like smells and sounds in the air, drying clothes in the wind, and taking a breath. I wanted to capture its joy in my music. The idea of a continuously moving, shimmering color became the structural core of the piece. The color begins subtly in the tenors as the words unfold in the foreground. The color weaves in and out of the text, remaining in the background until the very end when all voices join in, as it becomes a huge, wordless expression of joy.

Commissioned and premiered by The Dale Warland Singers.

Dog from DuluthSATB a cappellaChoral

In the late 1990s, I walked into a pet store to purchase dog food for my German Shepherd, Louie. I left with dog food and a new friend for Louie. Gobi was found roaming the streets of Duluth, MN and he was up for adoption at the pet store. I adopted him on the spot, grabbed the food and our family was one being bigger. In 2010 I wrote this text as a journal entry while watching my sweet Gobi follow me with his soft brown eyes. He was in his last days and I had a commission to compose a piece about dogs or cats for the South Bend Chamber Singers. I took the opportunity to write “Dog From Duluth,” celebrating Gobi and rejoicing in the precious, innocent spirits that are our animals.

For the South Bend Chamber Singers,
Nancy Menk, conductor.

Commissioned and premiered by the South Bend Chamber Singers, Nancy Menk, conductor.

Draw the Strings TightSolo guitarSolo Instrumental

I wrote this piece just after finishing "A Sound Like This," and I was still very much absorbed with the writings of 15th-century Indian mystic/poet Kabir. This piece is based on phrases and ideas from "He Draws the Strings Tight." I was especially focused on the phrase, "Open the window to the West of you," using this image to inspire music about being open, anticipating the future and seeing what might be outside yourself. Each movement contrasts the others. The last movement is especially grand--I wanted to show the breadth and depth of the guitar as an instrument.

Commissioned and premiered by Kenneth Meyer under the auspices of the Argosy Foundation.

Eskimo CurlewSATB divisi chorusChoral

from Spectral Spirits

EuterpeString orchestraInstrumental

Premiered August, 1989 by the Ives Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Danbury, CT

Fenix, TheSATB div. a cappellaChoral

The text for this piece about death and rebirth is an excerpt from the Exeter Book, an anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry from the 10th century. It is set in the original Anglo Saxon language, maintaining the poem’s mysterious, magical feel. The choir narrates the story of the Fenix (phoenix in modern spelling), while a soprano soloist provides the voice of the Fenix herself, ideally from a balcony or other off-stage space where her voice can appear as if from nowhere.

Commissioned and premiered by the Rose Ensemble with funding provided by the Jerome Foundationand special support from the Schubert Club.

Commissioned by the Rose Ensemble
with funding provided by the Jerome Foundation
and special support from the Schubert Club.
Flights of FancySolo celloSolo Instrumental

This piece is made up of three little fantasies for solo cello.

Commissioned by Eliot T. Bailen for the Sherman Chamber Ensemble.
Premiered by: Eliot T. Bailen

For God So Loved the WorldSATB and pianoChoral

This piece is a setting of the beautifully poetic King James version of John 3:16. It is simple and elegant, and suitable for church choirs.

It was commissioned in 2001 for Pastor Douglas R. Roper, on the occasion of his retirement from Minnewashta Church, Shorewood, Minnesota. Pastor Roper, who sang in his church choir, had been rehearsing the piece for weeks without knowing it was a special commission or even a new piece. On his last Sunday, it was announced that the piece had been written in his honor.

Premiered by: The Minnewashta Church Choir, Shorewoood, MN

From Me and America SentTTBB and pianoChoral

The text for this piece is an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. It is a toast from America to the world, recognizing the splendor of the entire earth and how each nation is only a tiny part of the whole. Whitman talks about foreign lands as being a part of his own body, exploring how the earth exists in all of us and how that connects us as citizens of the world. A terrific piece to take on an international tour!

Commissioned and premiered by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club.

From the Wingbone of a SwanSATB Chorus with flute, cello, marimba, and drumChoral


Commissioned by the Valborg Choir, The Netherlands,
on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.

 Commissioned and premiered by the Valborg Choir on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.

Give Me the Deeper PearlsSATB a cappellaChoral

This setting of a poem by Annabelle Moseley is about the beauty of love and its vulnerabilities. I love how the poem explores the potential for love to be both a safe resting place and a place of deep heartache. This, I think, is “the honest mystery of things.”

to the Rock Valley College Chamber Singers -
Paul Laprade, conductor

Commissioned and premiered by the Rock Valley College Chamber Singers -Paul Laprade, conductor.

Giver of Stars: Six Poems of Amy Lowell, TheMezzo-Soprano and PianoSolo Voice

"The Giver of Stars" is excerpted from a larger theatrical work entitled Amy Lowell: A Rare Pattern. Lowells’s life as a poet and how it was woven into her life with the actress, Ada Dwyer Russell, fascinated me. Lowell’s stern exterior is counterpoint to a tender-heartedness and vulnerability which she shared with her beloved Ada. This cycle represents the arc of their love and life together.

Dedicated to the artistry of Glenda Maurice

High Plains RevelrySymphony orchestraInstrumental

Commissioned by the Harrington Cancer Center to celebrate their 10th Anniversary
Premiered September, 1992 by the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra

Icarian SongsOboe and pianoChamber

This piece is based on the ancient Greek myth of Icarus. The main story told about Icarus is his attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. He ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and the melting wax caused him to fall to his death in the Aegean Sea. I was inspired by the reach for something dangerous and possibly fatal—I believe it’s always better to reach, even if there is great risk involved.

Premiered November, 1990 by Wes Husinga, oboe, and Sonja Thompson, piano, Minneapolis, MN

Il Cantico delle CreatureSATB chamber chorus a cappellaChoral

Commissioned by The Schubert Club in Memory of Bruce Carlson
Premiered by: The Valborg Ensemble  

Illuminated Transience, AnSATB a cappellaChoral

Composing An Illuminated Transience was a wonderful journey into light, color, and perception. Each movement opens a small window from which we can see a poet, a painter and a scientist observe, ruminate on, create and experiment with light. Ultimately, the piece is a celebration of curiosity, passion and love of learning.

Commissioned by Cantori, Robert Cowles, Director
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York

Commissioned and premiered by Cantori, Robert Cowles, DirectorHobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York.

InvocationFlute ConcertoInstrumental

Commissioned by Susan Rotholz with funds by the Jerome Foundation

Premiered May 27, 1999 by Susan Rotholz with the Cape May Festival Orchestra, Cape May, NJ

Ivory-Billed WoodpeckerSATB divisi chorusChoral

from Spectral Spirits

Jambalaya StompConcert bandInstrumental

Jambalaya Stomp began to simmer in the fall of 2005 after meeting with members of the Orono (MN) All-District Bands. These students were brimming with enthusiasm and ideas. Our discussion produced concepts like “low and loud,” “slow and flowing,” “fast with a driving rhythm,” “jazzy” and having the piece tell a story about something happening in the world today, like hurricane Katrina. I kept a list of these ideas on my piano to inspire me. The students gave me the recipe for this jambalaya! The piece is about collaboration and coming together to face a challenge.

Commissioned by Orono Band Patrons of Music
Premiere March 6, 2006, Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, MN by Orono Mass Band under the direction of Donald Krubsack

Jammin' Town Musicians, TheFlute (doubling piccolo)*, Bb clarinet, bassoon ( doubling contrabassoon)*, french horn, tenor trombone, narrator, percussion, violin, cello*, bass* (*instrumentalists double on found percussion)Chamber

Based on the famous Brothers Grimm tale, “The Bremen Town Musicians,” I’ve adapted the story with the help of translations from the original German by Andrea Leap. I was inspired by this wonderful tale and infused it with my own love of American music and a special place in my heart for old animals.

Commissioned by Jack and Linda Hoeschlerin honor of Barbara Winthrop and in memory of her husband, Sherman,to celebrate their exemplary love for and support of the next generation.

Premiered under the aegis of WAMSO on October 7, 2005 by members of the Minnesota Orchestra with multiple performances during the 2005-2006 Kinder Konzerts Season.

Commissioned by Jack and Linda Hoeschler
in honor of Barbara Winthrop and in memory of her husband, Sherman,
to celebrate their exemplary love for and support of the next generation.
Land Meeting SkyFlute and celloChamber

The fierce, unyielding beauty of New Mexico’s landscape inspired Land Meeting Sky. Upon viewing this untamed land, one cannot help but realize the real balance of things. ZENITH is a description of the sun climbing to and descending from its peak in the sky and the waves of heat that radiate from the plains. CUMULONIMBUS is an approaching thunder storm that rapidly builds in intensity. BLAZING TWILIGHT describes a desert sunset. Finally, in MOON SHADOWS, cello and flute act as moonlight, and melodies outline long, black moon shadows.

For Susan Rotholz and Eliot T. Bailen, 1987
Premiered October, 1987 at the Young People’s Chamber Music Club (MacPhail Center for the Arts), Minneapolis, MN

Last of the CurlewsSATB divisi chorus, Soprano and Alto soliChoral

from Spectral Spirits

Little Lovely Dream, ASATTB a cappellaChoral

Based on a poem by Sarojini Naidu entitled “Cradle Song,” "A Little Lovely Dream" is a lullaby in three verses. Each verse is cradled by a sung and hummed wordless interlude. The piece was premiered by Dare to Breathe and recorded on their album titled “Dream a Little Dream.”

Commissioned by Chamber Music St. Croix for Dare to Breathe

Marvellous Error!Unison chorus & TTB semi-chorusChoral

The text of Marvellous Error is an Antonio Machado poem translated by Robert Bly. The piece plays with the idea of wakefulness and dreaming, what is true and what is fantasy, and the suggestion that perhaps what is in our dreams may be our reality as well.

Commissioned and premiered by Cantus and the St. Olaf Choir

Marvellous Error!SATB a cappellaChoral

The text of Marvellous Error is an Antonio Machado poem translated by Robert Bly. The piece plays with the idea of wakefulness and dreaming, what is true and what is fantasy, and the suggestion that perhaps what is in our dreams may be our reality as well.

SATB version arranged for Nathaniel Barnett and premiered at the Uncommon Music Festival in 2019.

Mi Sheberach, A Prayer for HealingSolo baritone and unison chorus or congregationSolo Voice

Mi Sheberach is a prayer for healing. The piece is written in antiphonal style for baritone solo and congregation or choir (a unison line).

Commissioned by Harriet and Len Levine for Cantor Jonathan Ben Gordon

Music of the Spheres, Aria and DanceTreble voices, harp, percussion, pianoInstrumental

Commissioned by choreographer Rosanna Gamson
Premiered at Washington Square United Methodist Church, New York, NY

Passenger PigeonSATB divisi chorusChoral

from Spectral Spirits

Poem for 2084SSAATTBB a cappellaChoral

I was drawn to this poem because it addresses life, death and renewal on a number of levels. It is both personal and universal. It is both hopeful and heedful. I wanted the music to reflect all of these elements. The piece begins with a slow unfolding of the very first line of text. For the middle of the piece, I chose to use "take heart" as a call to also "take heed." At the end of the piece, the sopranos sing "take heart" in the form of a question. These two words became an anchor for the entire piece.

Commissioned by the Dale Warland Singers (New Choral Music Reading Program)
Premiered (reading) June 1996 by the Dale Warland Singers, Minneapolis, MN

Prelude and AllegroTrumpet and pianoChamber

Premiered June, 1985 at Bennington College, Bennington, VT

Prelude: Before DawnTTBB a cappellaChoral00:45
Prelude: Dusk, Fantasy: The Night SkyFlute (doubling alto flute), cello and harpChamber

I have always loved to watch the sky. This piece is about the fading light at dusk and the magical opening up of the sky at night. The prelude is scored for alto flute, harp and cello and is meant to convey a grounded, earthly feel. The prelude ends with the first star (illustrated with a harp harmonic). The fantasy takes off into the cavern that opens up when the sun goes down. As our eyes adjust to the dark, we are able to see more and more. The piece ends with the morning star—again illustrated by harmonics in the harp.

Commissioned by Eliot T. Bailen for the Sherman Chamber Ensemble
Premiered 1993 by the Sherman Chamber Ensemble, Sherman, CT

Questo MuroMezzo-Soprano and pianoSolo Voice

A lush and passionate setting of Anita Barrows' poem about overcoming loss and facing personal challenges

In Questo Muro, Anita Barrows adopts Dante's striking image of one person confronted by fear and trepidation, symbolized by a wall of flame.  She asks:

Will you pass through it now, will you let it consume

whatever solidness this is
you call your life, & send
you out, a tremor of heat,
a radiance, a changed
flickering thing?

Edie's challenging setting features dramatic lines elegantly soaring over surging piano figures reminiscent of fire.

Premiered by Brittany Kallman, Schubert Club Courtroom Concert, St. Paul, Minnesota, April 14, 2011

RückblickSolo PianoSolo Instrumental

Commissioned by Ann DuHamel with funds provided by University of Minnesota Imagine Fund Award.

Rückblick, takes its inspiration from two pieces of Brahms. The first is the Intermezzo Op. 119, No. 1, nicknamed “The Gray Pearl” by Clara Schumann.  This piece is among the last pieces Brahms wrote. The second is the 4th movement of Brahms’s Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 5 (a much earlier work).  This movement is also an Intermezzo; subtitled “Rückblick,” which literally translates to “backward glance.” In these four movements, I explore ideas of looking forward, backward and being in the here and now in time by borrowing from these two “book-end” works from Brahms’s oeuvre.  

Rückblick: I. A Look Ahead [2:22]
Rückblick: II. Memento (After Clara’s “Gray Pearl”) [2:50]
Rückblick: III. Here, Now [2:04]
Rückblick: IV. A Backward Glance [5:14]

Saint Anthony PrayerChildren's chorus [opt. Soprano Solo], SATB chorus, ViolaChoral

This piece celebrates Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost things, known especially for his love for children and the poor. Composed for the Basilica of St. Mary (Minneapolis) parish choirs, it features adult and children’s choirs, and is cradled by viola at the beginning and end of the piece.

Commissioned by the St. Mary’s Basilica Choir and Fred Colen, St. Paul, MN
Premiered:  October 28, 2007

Sherman: Scenes and CelebrationsChamber orchestra (strings and winds)Instrumental

SHERMAN: SCENES AND CELEBRATIONS is a tribute to a small New England town on the occasion of its 200th birthday. Nestled in the hills of western Connecticut, Sherman has managed to preserve much of its small town flavor while growing to reflect the changes of 21st-century America. I chose to begin the piece with Naromi Brook because it runs from one end of the town to the other, passing though the very heart of the town much like the many people in the town’s history came through and made their mark. The second movement, entitled Overlook, is meant to depict a personal memory of a breathtaking vista I used to encounter when running hills on my high school cross country team. Finally, the piece ends with Fanfare. The music is celebratory and high-spirited, surrounding a recollection of both Naromi Brook and the Vista of Overlook and ends in a sparkling flourish.

Celebrating the bicentennial Anniversary of Sherman, CT and Sherman Chamber Ensemble’s 20th Anniversary

Premiered August 30, 2002, by the Sherman Chamber Ensemble

Sinar SuryaSolo pianoSolo Instrumental

"Sinar Surya" means “sun shaft” and is the name of a ship that sailed the Spice Islands of Indonesia in the 1970’s. When I compose, I often begin with an extra-musical concept as a point of departure. I chose this one because of the parallels that can be drawn between composing and performing a new piece of music and setting sail on a voyage. Plotting a course insures some predictability but there are always variables that make that course a challenge, and a different one, every time it is taken.

Commissioned by the Renee B. Fisher Foundation for Performers of the Connecticut Young Artists Competition
Premiered May, 1994 by Jeffers Englehardt

Sound Like This, ANine-part male voicesChoral

I created "A Sound Like This" for the superb male vocal ensemble Cantus. Former Artistic Director Erick Lichte and I had a vision for a piece that would beckon the audience to “listen.” I chose Robert Bly's translations of 15th-century Indian mystic/poet Kabir because they so eloquently and powerfully achieved this goal. They also resonated with me on a deep level, and spoke to my core life philosophy: that one must actively listen, seek, think, hope, and jump into experience. Composed for an ensemble of soloists, the piece features duos and trios to enhance the voices’ colors and textures.

Commissioned by Chamber Music America for Cantus, Minneapolis, MN
Premiere:  March 10, 2007

Spark!Clarinet, piano and two percussionistsChamber

I wrote this piece during a very stressful, transitional period in my life. I thought for a while that I had lost my ability to compose, my ability to be inspired. “Spark!” was the piece that broke through that mental block. It came as a welling-up of energy that I needed to express. It’s about cause and effect, how one thing charges another, and how one sound can ricochet off of another. A tiny spark can create a blaze.

Commissioned by Zeitgeist 

Spectral SpiritsSATB divisi a cappella with S, A, T, B soliChoral

When Donald Nally asked “are there any texts you’ve been dying to set?” I immediately thought of Passings by Holly J. Hughes. Passings was out on a display table at a favorite local bookstore. I picked it up because there was a feather on the cover – and because of the title. I had a feeling I knew what the subject matter would be. When I read, I was drawn in by Holly’s masterful poetry. Each of the 15 poems in her book lovingly tell the story of birds who are highly endangered, extinct, or believed to be gone. This book sat on a table in my living room for a couple of years. I thought maybe, someday, the opportunity would come for me to set some of these gems, and it did in the form of a commission to compose a 30 minute work for The Crossing.

Donald said “I like long pieces” and so, I chose four of Holly’s poems to set – “Passenger Pigeon,” “Carolina Parakeet,” “Eskimo Curlew,” and “Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.” Each of these birds lived in or migrated through or to North America. In addition to her poems, I found treasures in the Forward of Passings ("Take note. These birds are still singing to us. We must listen.") and in the books she references; such as Hope is the Thing With Feathers by Christopher Cokinos.

Having the space of 30 minutes was a luxury. I had room to play with form and to fashion a piece using Holly’s poems as the “pillars” of four musical sequences – creating a ceremony honoring each of the four birds individually. The piece begins with a brief prelude: setting Holly’s words from her Forward. Then, each sequence begins with an eyewitness account of what it was like to experience these birds firsthand, followed by what I call “The Naming,” which names each bird with the formal Latin and various “nicknames” given to each bird. “The Naming” is then followed by Holly's pillar poem.

For about a year, I was immersed in these poems and books by naturalists, ornithologists. I reread Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and articles about our ailing earth. In the course of composing this piece, I fell in love with four species, now gone. Each setting was an emotional sequence of falling in love followed by grief.

Composing Spectral Spirits was as much a study of humans as it was of birds. I found myself asking how human beings managed to destroy these populations. In some cases, populations were brought back from the brink of extinction only to be brought down again. False sense of security, perhaps. Human beings take for granted, forget. Why, if we see something alive, vibrant, with striking color, do we want to possess it to the point of oblivion? Why is it permissible to destroy nature in the name of “progress” or financial gain? In the end: we all lose.

A part of me grieves every day for the state of our planet earth and her creatures. Composing Spectral Spirits was a gift that gave me a chance to funnel this grief. It also allowed me to celebrate the creatures we’ve lost and work to preserve and nurture the ones that still appear in the treetops.

This work was commissioned for The Crossing - Donald Nally, conductor - with generous support provided by John Hawthorn and Danielle Macbeth.


Duration: 30:00

Splash! Leap!SSAA and pianoChoral

“Splash! Leap! is a result of planets aligning just right! After a dinner meeting with some Twin Cities Women’s Choir fly fishing enthusiasts, I set out to find a text that would do justice to the banter about being one with nature, being fully present and alive, playfulness, and the beauty of interplay between water, light and fishing line. I found a gem in Ailm Travler’s essay, "Run-Off", from an anthology entitled “A Different Angle" : Fly Fishing Stories by Women. Like Travler (a.k.a. Peggy Beck), I have tried to capture both playful and meditative feelings in my piece.

Commissioned by the Twin Cities Women’s Choir
Premiered May 6, 2011, Minneapolis, MN

St. Lucia 4:15 a.m.Tape and variable instrumentsMixed Media

It is December 21st, 2006, the longest day of the year on the overgrown sand-dunes of Saint Lucia, South Africa. Today, in the triple-canopy broadleaf rainforest on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the sun rises at 4:19 a.m. In order to capture a surround-sound recording of the coming “dawn chorus” of birdsong, our party must be up and in position by 3:45 a.m. Fortunately, African Wood-Owls sound off noisily in our camp before we can over-sleep our alarms. Then, beginning at 4:15 a.m., the drama of sounds unfurls around us. This piece is a collaborative project between Edie Hill and field ornithologist and clarinetist Andrew Lamy. 

Co-created by Andrew Lamy and Edie Hill under the auspices of the McKnight Foundation
Premiered: February 2006
Full Recording and Information Available: mixedflockorchestra.net

ThawSSAA a cappellaChoral

This wonderful text by Lola Ridge leaves itself open to multiple interpretations. I chose to picture myself as the “I” in the poem—a spirit or part of self that is not bound to the earth. At the end of the poem the speaker identifies with children playing, even though they may not recognize the speaker as one of them. The piece is a celebratory looking back and acknowledgement of age, recognizing that in order to avoid becoming “snowed in,” one must continue to be in touch with the inner imp.

Commissioned by the Twin Cities Women’s Choir
Premiered May 1,2, 2009, St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, Minneapolis, MN

There Is No AgeSATB a cappellaChoral

"There Is No Age" is about the power of collective voices and how the coming together of human beings to sing transcends the boundaries of time.

Commissioned by Harmonium Choral Society for their 25th Anniversary Celebration
Premiere: June 5,6, 2005, Morristown, New Jersey, followed by a tour of Northern Italy

Thinkers, Listen!Open, flexibleChoral

Excerpted from “A Sound Like This,” this piece is a wake up call. It beckons to the audience, encouraging us to pay attention, savor, and recognize the connection between the self and the universe.

Funds for this commission have been provided by
the Chamber Music America Commissioning Endowment Fund.

Funds for this commission have been provided by the Chamber Music America Commissioning Endowment Fund.

This Floating WorldSolo fluteSolo Instrumental

"This Floating World" is a collection of five musical illustrations of the following Haiku by Basho as translated by Robert Hass. I often use extra-musical material as a means of generating structure and color in my music. The idea of using these elegant images as a jumping-off point was very appealing to me.

attached to nothing,
the skylark singing.

Harvest moon—
the tide rises
almost to my door.

Winter solitude
in a world of one color,
the sound of wind

A petal shower
of mountain roses,
and the sound of the rapids.

A wild sea –
and flowing out toward Sado Island,
the Milky Way.

For Linda Chatterton

To A StrangerMezzo-Soprano, Baritone, and PianoSolo Voice

Commissioned by Adriana Zabala
for making music with friends across the ages

True Heart Is Waiting, ATTBB a cappellaChoral

Commissioned for Cantus and the Miami University of Ohio Men’s Glee Club, "A True Heart Is Waiting" is about the weight of leaving and coming home, but also savoring the path along the way. I began work on it in 2005, during the early part of the Iraq War, and I was struck by the juxtaposition of the intense sadness of a soldier and his family parting, perhaps forever, with the intense joy of being reunited after a dangerous journey. The piece follows a sea journey and builds to the final voyage home, where “a true heart is waiting” for the weary traveler.

Commissioned by Beth Swailes, Cantus and The Miami University of Ohio Performing Arts Series
Premiered March 29, 2005 by Cantus and the Miami University of Ohio Men’s Glee Club under the direction of Ethan Sperry in Oxford, Ohio, followed by touring concerts by Cantus male vocal ensemble

Undercurrents, Echoes and BlueTwo pianosChamber

Premiered April 1989 by Leonard Danek and Dan Sabo, Minneapolis, MN

Voice, ASSA a cappellaChoral

This piece is about searching for your voice. The May Sarton text explores the importance of listening to what’s inside of you and following your muse.

Commissioned by the Cornell University Women’s Chorus under the direction of Scott Tucker


We Bloomed In SpringSSAATTBB a cappellaChoral


bloomed in Spring.

Our bodies
are the leaves of God.

The apparent seasons of life and death
our eyes can suffer;

but our souls, dear. I will just say this forthright:
they are God

we will never perish
unless He

-Daniel Ladinsky
Words of St. Teresa of Avila from Love Poems from God
translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
Copyright ©2002 Daniel Ladinsky and used with his permission.

to Philip Brunelle and Plymouth Congregational Church
in appreciation for the generous gift of space to teach the Apprentices of
The Schubert Club Composer Mentorship Program

For Philip Brunelle and Plymouth Congregational Church in appreciation for the generous gift of space to teach the Apprentices of The Schubert Club Composer Mentorship Program

We Sing With Heartfelt JoySSA and pianoChoral

Commissioned by Joyful Noise

Premiered in June 2009 at the 2009 Chorus America National Conference in Philadelphia, PA.

Wild WooddoveSATB a cappellaChoral


When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace?—I’ll not play hypocrite

To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so she does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does

She comes with work to do, She does not come to coo,
She comes to brood and sit.

Commissioned and premiered Acappellago, Dennis R. Smith - Music Director

WindSATB a cappellaChoral

Read June, 1991 by the Gregg Smith Singers, Saranac Lake, NY

WindhoverSolo organSolo Instrumental

This piece uses Gerard Manly Hopkins' poem of the same name (printed below) as a jumping-off point.

I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom
of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
– Gerard Manley Hopkins

Commissioned by the American Guild of Organists, Twin Cities Chapter
Premiered:  November 10, 2003, Minneapolis by Dean Billmeyer