How I came to be
for SATB choir, violin and narrator
A setting of Kim Stafford's poem about how his parents met and fell in love during and after World War II. Written in memory of my parent's sixty years of marriage.
None (other Lamb)
A setting of Christina Rosetti's "None other Lamb" for SSSSAAAATTTTBBBB choir.
None (None Other Lamb) was the first setting of a number of poems by Christina Rossetti that stirred my creative imagination. It had a rather long gestation --- six years from initial inspiration to final notation --- coming at a time when I had just finished my dissertation, our daughter was born, and I was seeking a career change that ultimately led to moving to the Pacific Northwest. Rossetti’s entire poem hauntingly resonated during this intense time of transition, and it was not until life settled down a bit that I was able to finish the setting. The final result is music that contrasts traditional harmonic language capturing Rossetti’s initial confident statements of faith with a more chromatic idiom expressing the existential crisis at the end of the poem. It is a deep faith tested through the crucible of life's trials.
"I would point to possibly the most interesting work of the night, and likely the most challenging to perform, John Paul’s “None,” setting the Christina Rossetti poem “None Other Lamb.” At the climactic line “nor place to lay my head”, the devout poet’s nightmare of a comfortless earthly life is evoked in a rhythmically chaotic passage built on an extraordinary quadruple dissonance. Yet the dissonance is no mere effect; it’s created by refracting a theme which has become familiar in the predominantly minor-mode work, and it’s the means by which the exalted final line “Nor home, but Thee” becomes illuminated by the ultimate transformation to the major mode. It is, in short, absolutely vital."
Jeff Winslow - Oregon Arts Watch
Tonight the angels sing
for SATB choir
A short choral Christmas meditation with text by the composer. Envisioned as a choral response to the nativity story or as a benediction. Also available for solo voice and piano.