Making a Contribution

choral music Composer poetry wendell berry

My uncle once surprised me by telling me that farmers don't grow crops. "Farmers grow soil," he explained. "Soil grows crops." I'm three generations away from my own family's subsistence farming, and so the idea was news to me. But I began to see in my uncle's point of view the important theme of contributing.  By my uncle's standard—and by Wendell's—any farmer who thinks of growing crops as simply taking from the soil will have nothing but dust before long. Cultivating soil is an act of continual giving. As long as we want to eat, we have to give good care and material...

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A Belated Prequel

choral music Composer poetry wendell berry

  When I visited the Berrys at their farm in 2012, I thought I had come prepared for everything. I had duplicate copies of the poems that Wendell had agreed to read. I had two different audio recording devices in case one failed. But after reading “A gracious Sabbath stood here while they stood…,” Wendell caught me off guard. “How are they going to know who they are?” he asked, referring to the “they” mentioned in the first line and throughout the poem he had just read. I shrugged. I hadn’t ever paid attention to that detail; I just loved...

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Composer's Note: "The Seed is in the Ground" (Part One)

choral music Composer poetry wendell berry

Although “The Seed is in the Ground” is the last piece of music on the album, it was one of the very first that I composed. This little poem was music to me the instant that I read it...

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Unexpected Joys from creating Wendell Berry in Music

choral music poetry wendell berry

So I'm asking myself, in the quiet of this very late night, what was it for? What did I gain by investing such effort into this idea? Lists are the rage on the internets, so here is one more for the heap. 

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Composer's Note: "For the Future"

choral music poetry

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." (You can hear it here.) For the FutureBy Wendell Berry Planting trees early in spring, we make a place for birds to sing in time to come. How do we know? They are singing here now. There is no other guarantee that singing will ever be.  From New Collected Poems. 2013. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press. (Buy it atPowell's.) The first step in my compositional...

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