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Two arrangements for Chanticleer

I had the incredible honor of arranging two pieces for the world-renowned choral ensemble Chanticleer, a group that's inspired me since I was a teenager. This was for their recent album release Someone New.

I shared arranging duties with some fabulously talented individuals, among them Mason Bates ('Washing of the Water'), Michael McGlynn ('Ring of Fire') and Vince Peterson ('Somebody to Love'/'Temtation'). There are some stunning selections and awesome performances on this album, and I was so glad to be a part of it.

Here's the info on my pieces:

1) 'Wait Fantasy': This arrangement of the M83 song (from the seminal album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming) ended up being of epic proportion; though I had no idea how powerful it would be in the hands of an ensemble this virtuosic. In seeking a companion to the M83, which is very succinct of form and material, I came across the Emily Dickinson poem 'Waiting'. The first line of the poem is 'I sing to use the waiting'; I'd found some fortune indeed. Combining the two resulted in a long-form structure that was fit to accommodate the fantasy-like musical sketches I'd been making.

Hearing the ensemble sing this piece live in Brooklyn recently was among the most exhilarating musical experiences of my life. My heart has not beat that hard and fast in quite a while. Chanticleer has attacked this rather challenging piece with ferocity and unwavering artistic integrity; that they now include it in their touring program (alongside Samuel Barber , no less) is a humbling honor I truly had never even dreamed of.

 

2) 'The Hamburg Song': For some added flavor I snuck Hamburg Hymne , the city's traditional anthem, into this Keane song. The Hymne opens and closes the arrangement as well as provides thematic material for the development section. The biggest treat is that my great friend and former Other Guys colleague Ben Jones sings the solo- quite wonderfully.

Former OG's in the house, please stand up: James Earl Jones II (in NYC rehearsing for the 'Porgy and Bess' national tour), Chris Lacour, Ben Jones, me

Former OG's in the house, please stand up: James Earl Jones II (in NYC rehearsing for the 'Porgy and Bess' national tour), Chris Lacour, Ben Jones, me

Time For Three 'Grieg Mash-Up'

I wanted to share this wonderful suite that I created along with my longtime collaborators and friends Time for Three.  It mashes the Grieg 'Holberg ' Suite up with pop songs and TF3 originals. A highly enjoyable and pleasant listen. Great work to TF3the CMF orchestra and conductor Michael Christie.

Playlist: 

1. Grieg Holberg Suite 1st Movement (Prelude) 

2. Banjo Love (TF3/Hackman)

3. Grieg Holberg Suite 2nd Movement (Sarabande) ->  

4. Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney) -> 

Grieg Holberg Suite 2nd Movement Conclusion

5. Grieg Holberg Suite 3rd Movement (Gavotte and Musette) ->

6. Kissing in the Tree (TF3/Hackman) -> 

Grieg Holberg Suite 3rd Movement Conclusion

7. UFO (Coldplay)

8. Grieg Holberg Suite 4th Movement (Air) 

9. Grieg Holberg Suite 5th Movement  (Rigaudon)


 

The Torch-Light

intended to blog every week so i suppose i’ll just write. much better at extemporizing at the piano. as soon as one note follows another a relationship establishes. evocation of a style, mood, setting. leaf through an internal rolodex; write a new card. the battle of what’s already been and what could be. keep moving. don't look back. turn off your brain. turn off your brain. abandon is the torch-light in this ne’er explored cave. recklessness. adrenaline. totality. form is the tracing of your steps. theories are useless here. it’s you and darkness and if you’re good a torch and if it’s good a tear.

Stephen Hannock: Vortex at Dawn, Rose Mist

Stephen Hannock: Vortex at Dawn, Rose Mist

In residence with the Illinois Sympony and Nick Kendall: 'The Arc Inspired'

This week my great friend and frequent collaborator Nick Kendall and I have the privilege of being in residence with the Illinois Symphony. I was commissioned by the orchestra upon Nick’s recommendation to compose a violin-concertante-type piece that would open this weekend’s performances, the rest of the program for which is the Sibelius violin concerto and Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration. My piece is entitled The Arc Inspired and indeed I hear Nick working through several passages in the adjacent hotel room as I write this (update- he’s just moved to Sibelius- perhaps if I rework this paragraph again he’ll have alternated back) (update #2- we are at breakfast now and Nick isn’t practicing anything, he’s eating oatmeal).

I’ve been awestruck since the very first moment I arrived by the graciousness and sincerity of the ISO family, starting with executive director Trevor Orthmann (who personally commissioned my piece) and extending to the numerous members of the board and symphony supporters we have met. Most of this interaction has taken place through dinners and cocktail parties that have been thrown in honor of us being here, where Nick and I have had the opportunity to speak and perform. Believe me, the honor has been all ours. These folks support their orchestra and are passionate about the arts in their community- and it shows.

Speaking of being awestruck- the hilarity and charm of new music director Alastair Willis incites in one the same response- but in no way do I mean to belie his formidable skills and perspicacious attention to detail. These qualities were obvious from his very first email to me, where numerous inquiries about my score evidenced his careful and thorough study. We had a wonderful session yesterday going through the piece, and both Alastair and Nick are ready to go. I'm humbled already by the effort and passion they've put into my work. I cannot wait to hear it with the orchestra.

More later. Fingers crossed for good rehearsals!

SH

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