Category Archives: Choral

New Piece, New Recording (choral)

Back in 2015, I had just started the PhD program at University at Buffalo and an opportunity arose to have Voxnova Italia sing my piece, Noli esse vana, in a workshop at UB. I wanted to make some small revisions to the piece, which I wrote in 2013 and premiered with the (now-defunct) group I was singing in at the time, Ut Re Mi.

Instead of revising the first piece, I wrote a new piece entirely, but set the same exact text as in 2013 from the Confessions of Saint Augustine. The reading session with Voxnova was very instructive and illuminating, but we didn’t get a good recording of the piece.

Luckily, my friend and colleague Jessie Downs started a group here in Buffalo called the Sotto Voce Vocal Collective. From Sotto Voce’s Facebook page: “The group aims primarily to perform works by living composers, with a focus on fair representation of early to mid-career, women, and other under-performed composers.”


Sotto Voce Vocal Collective

At Jessie’s request, I delivered the score of the 2015 version of Noli esse vana to Sotto Voce, and joined the group as a singer too, to have it performed.

The concert took place on 15 March 2017, with Jessie conducting the group: Julia Cordani (soprano), Kristen Smigielski (alto), Jonathan Sandberg and Ethan Hayden (tenors), and myself singing bass. The recording is below. The earlier version can be heard here.


Choral Piece To Be Premiered In Buffalo

The Sotto Voce Vocal Collective will premiere my second setting of a text by St. Augustine, Noli esse vana. This piece will open Sotto Voce’s first concert of the spring season on March 15 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. I’m even going to sing in this performance, lending my bass voice to St. Augustine’s words as well as Sylvia Lim‘s Landscape Fragments. I will be singing with Ethan Hayden, Jonathan Sandberg, Kristen Smigielski, and Julia Cordani. Jessie Downs, Sotto Voce’s leader, will be conducting.

Also on the program will be stay me with flagons by Porter James and Lamentations by Jessie Downs.

I wrote the first setting of this text in 2013 for a Renaissance choir I was a part of in San Francisco called Ut Re Mi, which has now disbanded but several of its members remain actively singing in the San Francisco Bay area.

Upon moving to Buffalo and presenting that first setting to my composition seminar, I realized that I wanted to make some revisions. What happened, instead, was I wrote another setting entirely. They are both made of the same DNA, and my approach to the text was the same in both. This newer setting is only more refined than the first.

The text (in Latin):

Noli esse vana, anima mea, et obsurdescere in aure cordis tumultu vantatis tuae. Audi et tu: verbum ipsum clamat, ut redeas, et ibi est locus quietis imperturbabilis, ubi non demeritar amor, si ipse non desertat.


Be not vain, O my soul, and do not let the tumult of your vanity deafen the ear of your heart.  You must listen: the Word itself calls you to return, and there is the place of rest imperturbable, where love is not abandoned if itself abandons not.

Listen to the 2013 setting below, and follow me on Soundcloud.