city psalms (2024)

for low voice, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and electronics


Written for Loadbang

Premiered on January 28th, 2024 at St. Paul St Andrew’s church in New York, NY by Loadbang


11-12 minutes

Program note

When I began conceptualizing city psalms, I collaborated with my poet friend Reuben Gelley Newman, inviting him to craft poems that reflect diverse aspects of living and being within an urban environment. Reuben’s work, particularly his imagery of trains and the parallels between their rhythmic movements and the interplay of body and soul, profoundly inspired me. Additionally, I was drawn to explore the ominous narrative of the climate crisis, examining its impact on city life.

My compositional process involved weaving a narrative that delves into themes of disorientation, meandering, and fleeting moments. Through the interplay of the ensemble, I aimed to depict abrasive urban sounds, windy outdoor atmospheres, and, metaphorically and possibly literally, the drowning that may occur within the urban experience due to the climate crisis. The ensemble collaborates to generate these sounds, synchronized with electronics that include manipulated recordings of a train, rendering it unidentifiable throughout the piece.

As I composed this work, living with Reuben’s poetry, my focus centered on conveying the layers of metaphors and various symbolisms embedded within the text.