“Folk Songs of America is a newly-begun choral cycle which seeks to unite commissioning choirs from around the country in a project that will fulfill a larger personal goal of mine. My choral commissions are nearly always isolated projects, without a sense of any larger goal or inter-connectedness. For some time, I’ve looked for a way to bring individual commissions into a sense of community, participating in a larger narrative. This choral cycle is my attempt to do just that. When finished, Folk Songs of America will contain 10-14 new settings of American folk songs, representing distinctive facets of the richly diverse people and places found through various periods of American history. Inquiries are welcomed for commissions of other folk song arrangements for inclusion in this ongoing project.
My goal for the cycle is to include commissioned folksong settings (individual pieces, or short sets) from choirs from every region of the United States, with each participating choir commissioning a setting of a song (or small set of songs) which captures the unique heritage or history of their location or region. The pieces will be published gradually, as they are written, so that they may be performed separately; but they will eventually be organized into two 25-30 minute sets, each with great musical variety, which could also be combined into one full-length (60-70) minute performance.”
Five pieces in the cycle have now been completed and premiered:
- Two Colonial Folksongs, commissioned by the Williamsburg (VA) Choral Guild, representing folk music of colonial Williamsburg.
- Long Long Ago, commissioned by the Florida State University Singers, representing sentimental/parlor songs which were extremely popular in the early 20th century.
- Who Can Sail Without The Wind? commissioned by Hopkins High School (MN), representing folk music of Scandinavian immigrants in the upper Midwest.
- Skip To My Lou, an creative and humorous arrangement of a folk song with Texas connections, commissioned by the Katy (TX) High School Choir (publication Spring 2015).