Inspiration…from where?


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You get the idea…inspiration comes from many sources…beauty in the world around me (photos above are from the Canadian Rockies)…feelings that arise from beautiful people…experiences…poetry…meaningful words.  Sometimes the inspiration comes when I am terribly burdened about injustice in the world…tragedy…when I would like to say something, but do not find myself in a position to do so.  Will my music eventually get to the “right place?” Who knows?  Many of us composers write music to heal ourselves.  It is our vehicle to express feelings we might not be able to express otherwise.  We express ourselves, because we need to do so.

I have no idea if my music always gets to the right places, but I do know of many interesting events have transpired through performances of my music…events that I had nothing to do with it, really.  I just put my thoughts and feelings on paper.  For example, there was one time when I was trying to begin a new Kyrie…and nothing would come to me. Then…the events of 9/11, and Kyrie Eleison was written in one day.

Then…I was trying to get started on a commissioned piece…trying to set the words of John G. Fee, the founder of Berea College, and…nothing would “happen.”  As I was thinking about the words of Fee, horrible events occurred at Virginia Tech. Again, I composed most of The Presence of the Lord in one sitting.   I mentioned to Dr. Stephen Bolster (who was waiting on this piece) that I seemed to move faster on that day, because I could relate to the Fee’s words…words I would like to say to families, if I had been there.  I totally forgot about my comment to him…until I read the program notes at the premiere.  As fate would have it, the next year Berea’s choir would be singing it on choir tour in the Blacksburg (VA) Baptist Church.  Unbeknownst to Dr. Bolster, the pastor of the church worked with the police department as a chaplain, and was the person who gave tragic information to many families that day.  The Berea Choir sang their concert only two weeks prior to the first anniversary of the event.  The church was overcome with emotion, as were the singers.  They all remembered and cried together.  We never know how our music will be used in the world.

So many ways to be inspired!!  So many things to be said!  So many notes to select, in order to say things I want to say!

I have written choral music for twenty years.  One of the major reasons I created is that for the rest of my life…I want to write the things I want to write…say the things I want to say…in the ways I want to say them!!  I want total freedom in my musical expression.  I’m just doing something different from my past work in this area….I love it!