Tonight at 8PM CST the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, under the baton of Dr. Andrew Mast, will premiere my work, On the Mountains of Orphalese… I would like to invite everyone that is able to, to come to the concert at the Lawrence University Chapel, or to view the livestream.

Please press the link below to view a live webcast of the concert: 

https://livestream.com/LawrenceUniversity/events/7259592

Understanding this piece can be a challenge, as it has many layers of meaning stacked on top of each other. I have attempted here to best describe how I went about writing the piece and its relationship to what I was witnessing, but I hope the listener will also hear the work in a more personal, meaningful way than through what I laid out. One way to hear this work is to understanding it in the context of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, arguably the most influential work in history by a Lebanese author, which I go more in depth about in my notes. But that is certainly not the only way, one could relate it to current events, or tie it into the Mountains of Lebanon. All potential points of reference are fair game here, the point is that I want your imagination to take control.

So with that all being said, here they are, my official program notes:

This piece was written during a difficult time in my life where I felt extremely isolated and had an intense longing to leave where I was and start over. At those times, I turn to literature and poetry to find meaning somewhere away from reality. I thought about a work by the Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, that neatly ties his entire worldview, and lays it bare for the world to witness; his book of poems, The Prophet. Orphalese is the setting of this tremendous work, where a prophet is stranded from their home in a distant place, waiting for a ship to take them back. Interestingly enough, Orphalese is not a place that exists, but it is a place where a prophet teaches, a place of holy insight far away from us.

Orphalese is only briefly mentioned in the beginning, but I was left imagining what this place would look like. Where, in this world, could exist such a place where the people can truly recognize the prophet among them and listen to what they have to say? When all around me I hear words of hatred, violence, and a refusal to hear what anyone has to offer. Where could exist such a place, where an immigrant could arrive at some unknown location and be welcome to a loving community and given the resources to learn and teach the people of that place what they know? Certainly not here, where the message is consistently becoming clearer, outsiders are not welcome.

This is also to juxtapose the actual land of the prophet, the Middle Eastern mountains between Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. A hotbed of unrest in our world’s climate as people sit down reading this, contemplating whether or not the descendants of their own lord and savior can be trusted to enter the country. As anger is unleashed and the world is demanding that art, culture, education, and social progress all be halted while we wish that the magic can return to the mountains. Currently the mountains where water was turned into wine are under fire; so I must take refuge in the mountains of Orphalese, perhaps I can still find meaning there.

I can’t wait to share this work with you all. This was easily the most enjoyable work to create, edit, re-edit, and rehearse during my time at Lawrence. Special thank you to Dr. Mast for all his work into making this happen, everyone in the wind ensemble, who I asked a lot of, and of course to my teacher at the time Andrew Cole.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. My senior recital was a great success thanks to the wonderful work of all the performers, Naomi Oster (my co-director), and various professors.

I would like to make a point that was neglected in the program. I have somehow neglected to include Matthew Michelic, Professor of Viola at Lawrence University, for his wonderful help on Electronic Battleship. We actually spent the entirety of winter term together, and he was instrumental in making Electronic Battleship the quality work that it became.

And of course, thank YOU, to everyone that came to the recital. I was overwhelmed with the positive responses I got from everyone, and I am so glad that it turned out to be a memorable experience for the audience. It was wonderful to hear everyone’s responses and what parts were really memorable to them.

Since the recital, I have had many people come up to me asking for a recording. I regret to say that I will not be sharing any direct recording of the recital to the public. However, there is something a little more exciting in the mix.

I am collaborating with the wonderful videographer, AJ Williams to create a video album based on my recital, which will be available by early June. We are now in the process of making a few music videos and recording some of the works so that we can present them to you in as effective and professional way as we can. The reason why is because I believe a direct recording of the recital would fail to capture the intense mood of contemplative religiosity that was quite present in the space. The concert venue was also frankly not the best space for a recording. It was perfect for the concert, but less so for recording. Finally, I do believe that the essential message of the recital would be easier to capture in a 5 song album than it would be in a long youtube video titled “recital.” I appreciate everyone’s patience in this and I hope you will find the end product worth the wait!

If you would like to get acquainted with what to expect, please take a look at this PDF. It is the program from the recital, explaining what pieces were in it, the text from the songs, and a cohesive background of what to expect. I highly encourage you to take a look, as it not only gives you some insight into the work I have been doing lately, but it also has some beautiful poetry which deserves to be shared

A Night of Infinite Resignation Program

While you wait, there are still many opportunities to hear new music until June, and I’m so excited to share some of these performances with you!

The first event is coming up this Saturday, April 22 at 8 PM CST, where the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble will premiere my piece, On the Mountains of Orphalese…! This is, without a doubt, my favorite and best piece I have written during my time at Lawrence. I shared a recording of the reading the Wind Ensemble did last year, but now we have the opportunity to hear it after it has been rehearsed for the past four weeks. Here is an excerpt from the program notes:

This piece is special to me because it was written during a difficult time in my life where I felt extremely isolated and had an intense longing to leave where I was and start over. At those times, I turn to literature and poetry to find meaning somewhere away from reality. I thought about a work by the Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, a poetic epic that neatly ties his entire world view, and lays it bare for the world to witness; his book of poems, The Prophet. Orphalese is the setting of this tremendous work, where a prophet is stranded from their home in a distant place, waiting for a ship to take them back. Interestingly enough, Orphalese is not a place that exists, but it is a place where a prophet teaches, a place of holy insight far away from us.

Hopefully, this will inspire you enough to come, or to listen to the live stream! If you are away and would like to listen to this work, please use this link at the time of the concert to hear it live with us! My piece will be somewhere in the middle, first one after intermission.

Please click here to view the live-stream!

Please also be on the lookout for an opera scene, and a project I’m very excited about, a collaboration with a prog-rock band at Lawrence University, The Goat Wizard! Both of which I will be posting more about soon!