You Love

I started “You Love” about three years ago, as a lyric-writing exercise. I do these a lot, because writing lyrics is a never-ending struggle to fill a bucket with a hole in it. If I can occupy my mind with arbitrary rules about rhyme structure, then I don’t spend as much time wondering what in the world to write in the first place. Also, I thought it would be fun to write something in second person, like “Captain Jack” or “Kid Charlemagne”, except about love and hope and not, y’know, junkies. It took a while to finish, and then sat in a note on my iPad for even longer. Eventually, I was looking for something to use as my next choral piece, so I wrote the arrangement over the summer, and taught it to Vocal Ensemble soon after our winter concert. We were on track to perform this new piece at the RIMEA Choral Festival in March, and then the world went into lockdown. 
We would have recorded it anyway, but once COVID-19 took over, we couldn’t even use our meager recording facilities at the school. So each student sang their part into a phone, while listening to the backing track with earplugs, and we began the INCREDIBLY TEDIOUS task of manually assembling a chorus. I’d guess that each track took at least an hour and a half of cleanup before it was in decent-enough shape to add to the project. Then the real fun started, with lining up entrances, fixing timing and tuning, and just generally being obsessive. The audio for this three-minute song probably took eighty hours of work. I’m not complaining, though; we got something special, and it sounds like what they sound like when they sing together, which is to say, fantastic.

From the inside, out

We left school in March, on Friday the 13th, telling each other, “well, see you in a month or so!”. We knew that we probably weren’t going back, but no one was ready to process what that actually meant. In the two months following, everything on the school calendar was canceled: concerts, the spring musical (Legally Blonde!), proms, class awards, graduation. The country has endured a terrible year, with tragic losses. However, our high school seniors have endured a different kind of terrible year. While their families have lost income, and possibly loved ones, they have also lost all of the milestone events to which young people look forward for most of their school careers. 
Each year at Mt. Hope, we do a recording project with Vocal Ensemble, our audition choir. The first couple were graduation songs (see “To Belong” and “Timeless”), which we were honored to present at the graduation ceremonies their respective years. For 2020, we had a new choral piece, entitled “You Love”, which we had planned to debut at the RIMEA state choral festival. This festival was, of course, canceled, so we were at a loss as to what to do with it. Out of sheer desperation, and a desire for a project around which we could rally, we decided to record it remotely. Twenty students, all singing into their respective iPhones, on a choral song that relies on precise timing and shared dynamics. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Also, since the difficulty level evidently wasn’t already high enough, we figured we could record all of our seniors’ solos, and make an entire album out of the resulting material. 

WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Well, so, a lot. However, we stumbled into a fantastic project, which brought us together in a myriad of ways, and which gave our last quarter of the school year real purpose. Over the next few posts, I’ll document what we did to make “From The Inside, Out”, as well as the accompanying videos and fundraising project. If you would like to cheat a little and find out ahead of time how to contribute, click here.

Part Of The Gift

This was a fun piece to write, and it’s one of my favorite choral works, so far. It’s dedicated to Fr. Robert Hawkins, the former pastor at St. Luke’s, and was originally performed at his retirement mass in June of 2018. The title is taken from one of his best-loved homilies. It wasn’t easy to record, since we were so scattered (Caroline literally ‘phoned’ her part in from Maryland), but as always, the vocalists of Listen Above brought the words to life. It has also been performed by the Mt. Hope Vocal Ensemble, who featured it at the Providence College Choral Festival in February, 2019.
Released as an online single in October, 2018. Please check our website for tour dates and more information about the band.

Buy/listen online
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The SATB arrangement is available through JW Pepper and SheetMusicPlus.

To Belong (Graduation Song)

I originally wrote this for my own high school graduation, but was never totally satisfied with it, so it’s been rewritten countless times over the years. Someday I’ll grab all of the demos and make one (unlistenable) EP out of them. We had an amazing audition choir at Mt. Hope High School in 2018, and they inspired me to finally finish the song and write an SATB arrangement, which we then recorded and performed for graduation. It was the first official release by Mt. Hope Music, and due to the terrible events of that year, it was also used as part of a fundraiser to benefit the Stoneman Douglas High School victims fund.
Released as an online single in May, 2018.

Buy/listen online
iTunes   Amazon   Spotify   YouTube
The SATB arrangement is available through JW Pepper and SheetMusicPlus.