Choral Works

All of these choral works are published by
Charlotte Benson Music Publishers in Philadelphia
and are licensed through BMI.

TRINITY REQUIEM

 for children’s chorus, four celli,

harp and organ

 Commissioned by Trinity Wall Street, NYC,

Robert Ridgell, Trinity organist and conductor

of the Trinity children’s chorus

for the 10th Anniversary Memorial Service of 9/11

Composed in 2010, the work was presented at Trinity Wall Street

a few days before the 9/11 Anniversary.

The actual 9/11 premiere was at St. Paul’s Basilica,

St. Paul, Minnesota, conducted by Robert Ridgell

Directly after this performance were further auditions

in Bavaria, Munich in particular, conducted by Beatrice

Menz

The Trinity recording of the work, also conducted by

Maestro Ridgell, was released in September 2011 by

Innova.  During the memorial week of 9/11m the recording

was presented on approximately 450 radio stations

in the USA, many streaming throughout the world.

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 a new version of 

TRINITY REQUIEM

was commissioned and premiered in 2012 by the 

Philadelphia Mendelssohn Club, conducted by

Alan Harler

Scored for an SATB chorus with the same original

instrumentation, the premiere was given at the

Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Philadelphia in

October 2012; at Mr. Moran’s suggestion and request,

the Philadelphia Boys Choir, conducted by Jeff Smith, joined

the Mendelssohn Club in three major sections of the requiem.

Both versions are available for performance via

The Charlotte Benson Music Publishers (BMI)

When Robert Ridgell (organist at Trinity) asked me for a new work to be commissioned by Trinity Wall Street and for his wonderful Trinity Youth Chorus, I said “Yes”…. then Robert told me that this new work would be part of the 9/11 Anniversary and he would appreciate having a requiem.

As I have no affiliation with any organized religion, I told him that composing a requiem to be performed by children/young people would be somewhat ‘strange’, a new and peculiar ‘kindertotenlieder’ and felt that we should be approach a new requiem with a different focus.  I remember so many past stories of children who had lost the parents, their families, in fact lost everything to warms famine, vicious governments, natural catastrophes such a Katrina that this would have some meaning for the young singers (99% of the chorus at Trinity was born in the year 2000).   Robert agreed, and sent me the various parts of the requiem.   We decided that with a limited budget, limited rehearsal time and recording time (last November at Trinity) we should use just the chorus accompanied by 4 celli, organ and harp.

Trinity Requiem is a reflection upon those thousands of children throughout the world with no future and little if any hope.   THIS made total sense to the young members of that fine chorus.

I did not reflect upon past requiems other than the fact that most composers had not included what seems to me to be the most important moment:  In Paradisum.     We all hope that this work will be of some comfort to those listeners who have lost beloved friends.

The Trinity Requiem premiered at Trinity Wall Street in September 2011.   Its second performance was at the Cathedral of St. Paul, in Minnesota.   The European premiere was on November 13th in Munich with two performances conducted by Beatrice Menz.

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“…da entstünde ein Engel…”  (2006)

Text by Meister Eckhart

       for SATB Chorus, organ and brass ensemble (4 trumpets in C,

horn, 3 trombones, bass trombone, tuba) with one trumpet

sounding from a great distance.

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STIMMEN DES LETZTEN SIEGELS

(“Voices of the last Seal”)

Text by King Ludwig II of Bavaria

for SATB chorus, four celli, organ, harp, percussion

World Premiere:  October 4, 2001 at Munich’s Frauenkirche

Chrismos Chorus conducted by Alexander Hermann

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                                         GITANJALI  (2000-2001)

a series of short choral works, all based upon texts by India’s
Rabindranath Tagore

I.   for SATB chorus and brass (3 trumpets, 3 horns, 3 trombones)
II.  for unaccompanied SATB chorus
III.  for SATB chorus, brass ensemble (as above) and timpani
IV.  for chorus of sopranos and altos accompanied by string quartet
V.  for SATB chorus and brass ensemble (as above)
VI.  for SATB chorus and keyboard
(or a possible arrangement for 9 brass players)
VII.  for chorus of sopranos and altos with brass ensemble (as above)
VIII.   for soprano solo and 6 keyboards

premiered on September 17, 2000, Milano, Italy


“A Final Moment”
for 16 solo voices (and variable instruments)
text by Tagore


“Passage Through-2000”
for SATB chorus and string quartet; text by Tagore

“In Flight”
for SATB chorus and organ; a short choral work, originally
from Moran’s singspiel “Leipziger Kerzenspiel”; text by the composer

“Stimmen des letzten Siegels”
(Voices of the Last Seal)  (2000)
written specifically for Munich’s Frauenkirche; text by King Ludwig II
Duration: approximately 30 minutes
for SATB chorus, 4 celli, organ, harp, percussion
Premiered in Munich on October 14, 2001, commissioned by Chrysmos and
Maestro Alexander Hermann

on the INNOVA CD label

Program Notes for STIMMEN

In 2000, my friend, the organist/conductor, Alexander Hermann of Munich,  visited me in Philadelphia, and during that appearance, we talked about ‘designing’ a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ type of concert for the following year in Munich.   We decided that with his wonderful chorus, Chrismos, we’d begin and end the concert with Gregorian chant.  Following that would be some unknown choral works of Carl Orff (one cannot get much more Bavarian than Mr. Orff!); follow these choral selections, Alexander would present an organ improvisation, followed by the world premiere of my STIMMEN DES LETZTEN SIEGELS (Voices of the Last Seal), written for this specific event with Chrismos, 4 celli, percussion, organ and harp.  I had selected a text by King Ludwig II, the much adored “fairy tale king” of Wagner’s time.  Little did I know, when asking our wonderful lighting designer to ‘bathe’ the entire interior of our space, in this case the white walls and ceiling of the famous Frauenkirche Cathedral in central Munich, in cobalt blue, that in fact this color was Ludwig’s favorite.  Directly following my work was the concluding and final Gregorian chant from a distant back balcony.

The US Premiere was presented in a dance form at Indiana University in 2003, a collaboration of that school’s Music and Dance departments.

The score is basically in three parts with the middle section taking the listener from one level of sound into another totally ‘different world’ inwhich all of the singers and instrumental “voices” are given variable pitches from the harp.  The third and final section brings the work to its gentle conclusion.

“Stimmen des letzten Siegels” (the Munich World Premiere) has just been released on INNOVA via the American Composers Forum, and also contains other ealier works of mine including the five excerpts from the opera, “Desert of Roses”.

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“A Remembrance” (1999)
a short work for sopranos, clarinet and piano (4 hands)
Text by Boris Pasternak

“Das Knie” (1999)
for unaccompanied SATB chorus
text by Christian Morgenstern

“Canticles” (1998)
for men’s chorus
accompanied by an ensemble of oboe, string quartet and piano, or piano solo
text by James Skofield
duration approximately 17 minutes
Part I.   “Alchemy”
Part II.  “Aeolus”
Part III. “Yahrzeit”
(this work has had numerous performances as a solo work)
The work was commissioned by the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus
and premiered in by that ensemble.
“Canticles” has its East Coast premiere via the
Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, Spring 2002, in Symphony Hall.

“Mots chuchotés” (1997)
(“Whispered words”)
for SATB chorus and orchestra
Commissioned by Frances Wagenseil
No text
Orchestra:  piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2
trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones, bass trombone, tuba; harp, two sets of
percussion 1) timpani, bass drum, 2 tams,  2)  vibraphone, chimes, large
suspended cymbal;  strings

“MOTET-Peace is my passing gift” (1997)
for 3 SATB choruses
(3 conductors)

Opera “Remember Him to Me” (1996)
a short plot-less opera with a text by
Gertrude Stein;  for piano (4 hands) and percussion (see OPERA)

Refer also to Operas: Remember Him To Me

 

Three short, unaccompanied choral works:

Anthem  (1994)

for unaccompanied SATB chorus

“Funeral Sentence for Henry Purcell”

for unaccompanied SATB chorus

“Mantra”
for three SATB choruses, at great distances from each other,
requiring three conductors; open duration; no text

The premieres of these three works were on April 8, 1995 by the
Seattle Choral Company.

 

“Winni Ille Pu” (1994)
for SATB chorus and two accompanying instrumental ensembles
(requires three conductors)
Text from Winni the Pu, in Classical Latin

Commissioned by the Philadelphia Mendelssohn Club, Alan Harler, conductor

2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, synthesizer, Percussion 1
Brass ensemble:  2 trumpets, 4 horns, 3 trombones, Percussion 2
The 2 sets of percussion include:
timbales, temple blocks, wood blocks chimes, bongos, vibraphone.

 

Opera “Night Passage” (1994)
for men’s chorus and chamber ensemble

Refer also to Operas: Night Passage

“Seven Sounds Unseen” (1992)
for 20 solo voices (or full chorus)
the Part II text comes from letters of John Cage to Moran
from the period 1960-1987
the score was commissioned by BMG/RCA
and recorded/premiered (1993) by NYC’s Musica Sacra
conducted by Richard Westenburg

“Seven Sounds Unseen” is available on the Innova cd label
(duration of the work is approximately 23 minutes)

The score has been presented either as a complete work, or in sections
throughout the USA, including Alaska.  Its European premiere was in
Munich’s Ursula Kirche, 2000 conducted by Alexander Hermann.

“Agnus Dei” and “Ite missa est” (1990)
for four soloists, SATB chorus and orchestra
commissioned by Philadelphia’s Mendelssohn Club, Alan Harler conducting
premiered in Philadelphia on March 23, 1991,
sharing the program with the Mozart C Minor Mass
(both works use the same musical forces as the Mozart)
duration of both approximately 15 minutes

Orchestration:  2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 3 trombones, strings

“Requiem: Chant du cygne” (1989)
for four SATB choruses and four instrumental ensembles
commissioned, premiered
(in Philadelphia’s Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul)
and recorded on the Argo label of London Records by
Philadelphia Mendelssohn Club
conducted by Alan Harler and three other conductors,
the work requires an extremely live performance space,
preferably a large cathedral
Premiere in May 1990,
with following performances at the University of Minnesota
by Earl Rivers and his Vocal Arts Ensemble in Cincinnati

The recorded work has been danced by various companies
in the USA and Europe.
The text is from statements Mozart made the day he died.
This Requiem has always shared the program with the Mozart Requiem.
The final movement of this Requiem incorporates the 12
tone row from the Graveyard Scene in Mozart’s Don Giovanni,
originally discovered by Darius Milhaud,
and mentioned to Moran as a possible inclusion in a future work.

Group I:   front of public-SATB chorus, 2 violins, viola, cello,
string bass, trombone and keyboard synthesizer
Group II:  SATB chorus at the back of the cathedral-with 3 violins, viola,
cello, string bass, 2 trombones, keyboard synthesizer
Groups III and IV:  (on either side of the public)  SATB chorus, 2 violins,
viola, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet (in C)

“Hagoromo” (1988)
for SATB chorus and instrumental ensemble
(a performance requires the use of 2 conductors)
of flute/piccolo, 3 synthesizers, 1-2 percussionists
and variable instrumental ensemble of winds and brass
(maximum of l0 players)
the text is a relating through various translations of
the ancient Japanese legend
of the Angel who comes to Earth to bathe in a river.

The duration for the work is open,
most successful at approximately 15 minutes.

“Hagoromo” was commissioned and premiered the Paul Salerni and his
New Music Ensemble at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
premiered on November 5, 1988
with a following performance via a WNYC Radio live concert in
NYC’s Merkin Hall, John Schaefer, moderating the broadcast.
The work was choreographed by Phyllis Lamhut for the
Jose Limon Dance Company.

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“robe de soir”

Text of Pablo Picasso

for SATB Chorus, 4celli, 2 string bassi, 2 trombones, 1 bass trombone,

2 harps, ‘prepared’ piano, 3 percussion, 1 snare drum (off stage)

Duration: approximately 9 minutes

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Purcell/Moran

Harmonia Sacra

for SATB Chorus

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“Buddha goes to Bayreuth”   (2011 and 2013)

Texts from ancient Tibetan mantras

The original section is now Part II and commissioned and premiered by

the Ruhr Triennale, at the Oberhausen gasometer.  Conducted by

Rupert Huber, the score of approximately 40 minutes duration, calls

for 2 SATB choruses and 2 string ensembles.   The 2013 section is now

Part I with the same orchestration plus a solo counter-tenor.  The

world premiere of the entire two sections is an evening

at the new music division, Salzburg Festival 2014, again

conducted by Rupert Huber; duration is now approximately

60 minutes

Some casual notes on “Buddha goes to Bayreuth”

In 2011, the Ruhr Triennale commissioned my (Part II) of “Buddha goes to Bayreuth”.  Amusing though as Part 1 did not exist until this Salzburg world premiere, when the entire score, now for two choruses and two string ensembles plus a solo counter tenor voice, conducted by Maestro Rupert Huber.

That Ruhr set of two performances as part of the third and final year with Director Willi Decker, had as its focus: Buddhism.   Decker presented his new “Tristan” production at that time.   When all of this was mentioned to me via Ruper Huber, visiting me in Philadelphia, he asked, “Do you have any musical ideas for this festival?”   Knowing that in his early life, Richard Wagner thought of composing an opera on the life of Buddha.  Results?  Nothing!   I told Maestro Huber, “Well, we have Wagner, Buddha and ofcourse Bayreuth.  I’m thinking of a score built upon musical materials taken from PARSIFAL (since it’s clearly the most Buddhist in tempo) and want to title it “Buddha goes to Bayreuth”.

I composed this new work for a specific acoustical space, the amazing gasometer in Oberhausen, renovated and transformed into an incredible performing space.   My “Buddha….” would be the first musical performance in this space which has a sound-decay of more than 30 seconds.   I have always enjoyed working in concert areas with ‘very live’ acoustics…. these being cathedrals.  Most large cathedrals and churches have an acoustical sound-decay of approximately 8 seconds.  When told that the gasometer was over 30 seconds, I thought, “this is something like 10 seconds longer than even the Taj in India.  Now I can float choral and strings sounds everywhere, at times ‘piling up’ melodic and choral materials and sending them ‘out into space’.   What a luxury!”   The texts, clearly beyond recognition in such an environment, would be fragments of ancient Tibetan mantras.  Decades before any of this, I had been given the ancient book of chance, the I Ching, by old friend, John Cage.  64 possible hexagrams are available, and I selected from Acts 1 and 3 or PARSIFAL my favorite chords from the orchestral score, reducing each to a simple piano reduction, submitting all of the materials to the I Ching and chance-operations, re-orchestrating each as selected and for one or the other choruses and/or string groups.  The work needed to have a magical quality for me as I have loved PARSIFAL since I was a teenager.  At the age of 20, I attended my first PARSIFAL at the Bayreuth Festival 1957, that miraculous Wieland production. I repeated the PARISFAL visit two years later, again enchanted by the entire event.

Hearing and experiencing “Buddha goes to Bayreuth” will not suggest specific PARSIFAL chords but a totally new arrangement of sounds.

For this Salzburg Festival, Maestro Huber asked for a Part I with the same musical forces, approximately 20 minutes of various, chance-determined chords from PARSIFAL Act II.   I suggested just adding one more element:  a solo counter tenor voice, another ethereal sound-quality which simply floats through the beautiful Salzburg cathedral with its 12 second sound-decay.

At the end of Act 1, Scene 1 (PARSIFAL), the leading character says, “Ich schreite kaum, Doch wähn’ ich mich schon weit”.  Gurnemanz tells him, “Du sieh’st, mein Sohn, zum Raum Wird hier die Zeit”.

Time here changes to space.  I hope that the audience members for this complete “Buddha goes to Bayreuth” will receive some of that  “quality”.   This performance of approximately 60 minutes should be a gentle sound-adventure.  But in all honesty, I haven’t the slightest idea where we are all going.  That’s the adventure.

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“Tears in Dust”   (2004)

Text:  ancient Chinese poem

for SATB Chorus, harp, cello, organ

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“Von unsagbaren Dingen”

Text by Meister Eckhart

for 2 SATB choruses, 4 trumpets, horn, 4 trombones, tuba,

4 alp horns (the horn and trombone 3 can play the alp horns), organ

The world premiere was in Munich, Nov. 27 2005

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“Spiel vom Antichrist”

a large work of approximately 45 minutes duration

for 3 SATB choruses, children’s chorus, solo voices,

brass ensemble, small Baroque ensemble,

alp horn, harp, organ, dancers, actors

Two performances in the Munich area, November 2012

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“Angele Dei” (“Angel of God”)

Text in Latin

for 2 SATB choruses accompanied by

2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets,

4 horns, 3 trombones, harp, organ and glass harmonica

The world premiere was at the Philadelphia Basilica of

Saints Peter and Paul, Oct. 21, 2012

conducted by Alan Harler, the Mendelssohn Club

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“Yahrzeit”     (1996)

Text by James Skofield

for men’s chorus and piano

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“Bach’s Smoking”  (2014)

for children’s chorus (in 2 groups) and keyboard

Premiere:  Indiana, May 2 2015

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“Fisches Nachtgesang”

(after Christian Morgenstern)

for SATB chorus

Premiere:  Dortmund, Germany. Oct. 2  2015

Conducted by Rupert Huber

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