composer’s note: I wrote “Gather” in the spring of 2020 on the urging of my friend, conductor Scot Hanna-Weir, because like so many of my friends and colleagues in this Covid-19 pandemic, I deeply miss choral singing, and especially the vulnerability and group bonding that happens when people join their voices in chorus. I knew it would be impossible to perform choral music in a traditional sense at that moment, but wanted to explore how singers could still connect by making music together from our homes. At the time of this piece’s composition, there was no possibility of singers hearing each other in real time or being able to sync up their performances live, which got me excited about the idea of writing a piece that was aleatoric in nature, in which each singer performed as if it were a solo performance & then magical things happened when those out-of-sync solos combined via the internet.
Then, when I read my friend Katrin Talbot’s brief pandemic poem “Gather” it affected me so strongly, and I knew it would be perfect for such a piece. Katrin imagines, in a dream, that we’re all in a room together, feeling “nothing grand,” but simply that warmth of sharing basic experiences with others. So I conceived of my piece “Gather” as a musical dream of sorts. I recorded a backing track on my home piano (out-of-tune notes and all), adding various synthesizers & found sounds as a dreamscape, supporting and surrounding each singer’s musical choices.
And as each singer navigates that dream from their own recording space, a complex musical fabric emerges, all those dreams joining into one giant gesture of longing for connection, one slow reaching out to hold the hand of another human being. At one point, I can’t resist getting in on the action myself, and I musically "wave" to all of the other singers from my tree. And so, “Gather” is about connection when connection seems impossible, connection by reaching out into the dark and being pleasantly surprised when someone else is there, connection by accident, human connection as something indomitable that can’t be stopped no matter what happens in the world.