Since the release of Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music, a number of people have asked me about the process of writing choral music or, more specifically, my process. Here’s the story of one piece: "For the Future."
"[Wendell Berry] has received numerous awards, but never anything like this tribute, which puts Berry's words to music—in two distinct formats, each succeeding admirably," writes Dan Forte about Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music in the February 2014 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine. The review highlights Eric Bibb's approach to setting Berry's texts to music, including his choice of instrumentation and collaborators. The review also highlights Eric's other new album, Jericho Road, hailed as "his most ambitious album yet." —Andrew Maxfield
I was honored to perform selections from my album "In Song and Shade: Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music" at the 2013 James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards in Manhattan. Timothy McDevitt, the fantastic baritone who performed some of this music at the Roosevelt Institute's Four Freedom Awards, was the featured baritone. Wendell Berry received a Leadership Award in 2012 and continues to be, I think, a hero for many of the members of the JBF community. It was a treat and a privilege to rub shoulders with this year's honorees as well as the other remarkable attendees! —Andrew Maxfield
Wendell Berry received the Freedom Medal from the Roosevelt Institute, a prestigious award for individuals who exemplify FDR’s vision of democracy as outlined in his famous January 6, 1941 address. Watch the awards ceremony here. All of the honorees are inspiring and their brief remarks are worth listening to, including Berry's message about the Burley Tobacco Program. You also might hear my song "Stay Home" (from "Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music") performed by the tremendously talented baritone Tim McDevitt and instrumentalists from the Manhattan School of Music. It was an honor for me to be able to contribute just a little bit to such a remarkable gathering. —Andrew Maxfield
Mary Berry (Executive Director of The Berry Center) and I were interviewed by Marcus Smith, host of KBYU FM's program, Thinking Aloud. You can hear rebroadcasts on the air or visit the link here: http://www.classical89.org/thinkingaloud/. —Andrew Maxfield
Wendell Berry's name has appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune before, but this is the first time in connection with "Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music." Tribune music writer David Burger profiles the project and its seven-year incubation. Read the story here.
In Fall of 2012, I commissioned Greg Newbold to paint a portrait of Mr. Berry for the album cover(s). (Berry fans will recognize a few subtle nods to his essays and poems in the art, but I'll let you discover those on your own.) Even though Greg wasn't intimately familiar with Wendell Berry's poetry prior to our conversation, I had a feeling that his style would suit the project perfectly.
The choral music from Andrew Maxfield's album "In Song and Shade: Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music" debuted to an audience of about 500 at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, KY on April 4, 2013.
If you've come across this site, you're probably a fan of Wendell Berry. I am too. I started reading his novels about 15 years ago. Then I discovered his poetry, then his essays, and now I find that much of what I think and say is informed by Mr. Berry's work. If you're like me, you don't just have one of Mr. Berry's books; you probably have several. I created "Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music" for you—for folks who know and love Mr. Berry's work and feel the urge to celebrate its importance and beauty.