Composed in 2016 for the Children's Chorus of San Antonio, the San Antonio Chamber Choir, mezzo Tynan Davis, and the SOLI Chamber Ensemble, Ballads of the Borderland is a 45-minute cantata that explores the history, mythology, and personal recollections lived by multi-generational families in the southern US border region. Texts were collected from noted poets Carmen Tafolla and John Phillip Santos, as well as from oral histories culled from multi-generational border residents. The work was commissioned by the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, as well as the University of Texas at San Antonio. Additional support was provided by the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts, Robert and Karin Oliver, the National Endowment for the Arts and Trinity University.
Text by John Phillip Santos, "Peregrinos" portrays a family crossing the forbidding and forlorn deserts along the border. The musical setting, inspired by Santos' text, features both primal energy, and surreal rumination.
The final movement of the cantata, Santos' text reflects upon the act of forgetting one's heritage and ancient rituals. Heartrending in scope, the protagonist wonders what it's like when the old songs are forgotten and replaced by silence.
Premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC in 2013, Let the Word Go Forth was commissioned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A 25-minute work for chorus and orchestra, texts were drawn from among the speeches of President Kennedy, as well as other contemporary and historical sources.
Taken from the text of President Kennedy's inaugural address, the music swells upon arriving at the words "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
II. To the Moon
Based on President Kennedy's inspirational words that helped to launch the space program, the music draws on images from the Tower of Babel yearning toward heaven, the musings of Archimedes, and quotations from JFK's speeches.
Commissioned by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for the university's 100th anniversary, the work received its premiere at the hands of Dr. Frank Watkins and the UWEC Concert Choir. The text (written by the composer) meditates on endings, beginnings, renewals, and the hope of opportunity.