Chalices from My Hands (2008)

For baritone voice and piano
Texts by Abba Kovner (translated) and James Joyce
Duration: 13 minutes

World premiere: August 14, 2008
PianoForte Chicago
Jonathan R. Green, baritone; Jonathan Howard Katz, piano

Vocal range: G2-G4

This work is available for retail purchase from Theodore Front Musical Literature.
This work is available for institutional purchase from Harrassowitz (OttoEditions) and Theodore Front Musical Literature.

Program note: This piece marked my return to “serious” composition after a roughly 12-year hiatus, so in a sense it’s my Op. 1. Some of my friends were involved with a social justice organization in Chicago, and I offered them a piano recital as a fundraiser. I took the opportunity of this performance to compose my first song cycle, using texts by Abba Kovner (translated into English), alternating with passages from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and recruited my friend Jonathan R. Green to perform the baritone role. Listening to it again many years later, I can feel in it the urgency to write music again, which had been building for a number of years, and a concentrated expression in how I set it. There’s rage, frustration, and deep loss in there, and while I was just beginning to develop my technique as a composer, I’m still surprised at the work’s directness.

Audio recording with Jonathan R. Green and Jonathan Howard Katz: