September: Mt. Carrigain

for soprano and string quartet

Mt. Carrigain is a 4,683-foot peak in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which I climbed in September 2014. It was my 43rd of New Hampshire’s 48 peaks over 4,000 feet, the last before my worsening health made this kind of hiking no longer possible. This piece will be included in Ill on a Journey, a multilingual opera/oratorio about navigating life with chronic illness.

Hear soprano Abigail Chapman and SORA string quartet performing September: Mt. Carrigain:

I began climbing these mountains as a child
back then I set a goal to one day know them all
when I got sick so many goals had to be abandoned
and yet I held onto this

Signal Ridge Trail is a rocky spine ascending through evergreens
soaked in mist, clothed in moss and mushrooms
although I’ve never been here, somehow I feel at home

today it’s not too difficult to hold my head up straight
today my vision is clear
today the grip of pain is loose enough to move
this is as good as I can feel
as good as I’ll ever feel
Signal Ridge Trail is laced with slippery tree roots
sending me stumbling— ankles twisting—
my body knows I want to leave it and bites the rock in despair

taking a break, out of breath, we tell each other
“The view will be sublime, when the clouds lift!”
but the clouds never lift                           
they swirl around the firetower
in wind threatening to tear us away
refusing to allow even a glimpse of the green beyond

heading down
knees also refuse to obey
blood turned spiky as the trail

paper birch, I am a foreigner in your home now
will you kindly steady me?

—Rebekah Driscoll

May: Green-wood Cemetery

for soprano and viola

This piece was inspired by Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, 478 acres of natural beauty, history, and sculpture. The site of the 1776 Battle of Long Island, the cemetery now features four glacial ponds and thousands of trees (including some of Brooklyn’s oldest), sheltering an astounding variety of resident and migrating birds. Continue reading 

January: Brin’s Mesa

for soprano and violin

This piece was inspired by a site in Arizona’s Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, where in 2006 a campfire triggered the devastation of 4,000 acres. Continue reading 

Apart/ment

for four treble voices, alto flute, bass clarinet, cello, piano

About 60,000 people, including some 24,000 children, sleep in New York’s municipal homeless shelters each night, and thousands more sleep unsheltered on the streets. This diverse population includes people from nearly all walks of life, although the primary cause of homelessness for the majority is the severe shortage of affordable housing.

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Climate Honesty

for four treble voices

I wrote Climate Honesty around the time U.S. Senator James Inhofe brought a snowball to work in an attempt to deny the existence of climate change. My song is not addressed to the senator—I have no words for him—but rather to those who want to believe what people like him have to say, not only on this subject but on any where it is comfortable yet irresponsible to be ignorant.

Excerpt sung by Margaret Streeter, Crystal Tung, Julia Tang and Diana Hill. Conducted by Evelyn Troester DeGraf:

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