I am beyond excited to announce that my most recent composition, A Parable of Choices has won the Yale Glee Club 2017 Emerging Composers Competition.  This is a tremendous blessing and honor, and I look forward to hearing the Glee Club premiere the work during their 2017-2018 season.  (More details on that as they are available.)

This work grew from a seed planted at the University of Kentucky.  A few years ago, I was part of a performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem there, and found myself haunted by Wilfred Owen's poem, The Parable of the Old Man and the Young, which is a part of the Offertorium.  My first response was to proclaim, "but that's not what happened!"  In time, I realized that Owen agreed with me.  In a sense, he was saying, "and it doesn't have to happen now either."  

Unfortunately, Owen's ending has played out many times in the years since Abraham spared Isaac, perhaps more frequently than its Biblical parallel.  I wanted to share his warning with the world—preferably in a format that wouldn't require 400 musicians.  A Parable of Choices is the product of that desire, combining Owen's text with verses from the original story in Genesis 22.  This juxtaposition encourages the listener—and indeed the composer—to reflect regularly on which ending we will choose for ourselves.

In the years since my first experience with the War Requiem, Owen's words have only become more prescient.  May we all, both individually and globally, choose humility, grace, and love in every opportunity.

I have to give a special shout-out to my dear friend David Harris for his feedback and encouragement during the composition process as well as to Dr. Jefferson Johnson and Maestro John Nardolillo for opening my eyes to the depth of the War Requiem.  

I've included the text and translation of the composition below, just in case you're curious.

 

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?

Deus providebit sibi victimam holocausti fili mi pergebant ergo pariter.
("God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."  And the two of them went on together.)

Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;

Levavit Abraham oculos viditque post tergum arietem inter vepres herentem cornibus.
(Abraham looked up and there in a thicket, he saw a ram caught by its horns.)

Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

Quem adsumens obtulit holocausti pro filio.
(He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.)

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering."

One by one...

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.