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

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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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Q&A with Eric Bibb: Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music (Part 2)

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The following is a transcription of an interview with Eric Bibb about his participation in Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music.  How about your choices regarding instrumentation and players for the album—what were you thinking there? ERIC: My thoughts from the beginning were that this was about getting your fingernails into the soil, and that it had to reflect a rural sensibility. The instruments I chose—like guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro—are all connected to folk music, the stuff that you could find on somebody’s back porch when neighbors are sitting around. The idea of neighbors seems really prevalent in Wendell’s writing, and so the...

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