“…lovely harmonic progressions, good choice in vocal textures, and really fine attention to phrase shaping. I especially like [the] choice of Psalm verses…this is not the usual Sicut Cervus setting that I’ve seen most composers use.”
–Dr. Kevin Kellim, Washburn University
As the Deer is one of the more unique pieces in my ever growing repertoire. I grew up Christian and developed a great love for the psalms in my early teenage years. That love continued to grow with time, and I knew that eventually I would want to take set lyrics from the book of Psalms. However, the time needed to be just right for me to undertake a task that would contain such a personal emotional connection between myself and the text.
My church regularly sings the hymn, As the Deer by Martin J. Nystrom. I loved that piece ever since I first hear it, and it played an important role for the inspiration of this piece. My setting of the text from Psalm 42 hit me like a ton of bricks in February 2017. I was getting ready for bed when I was suddenly hit with the idea to sit down at my keyboard in my room and play. I began playing and my fingers were instantly filled with a new type of writing–a level of writing that I had not achieved yet. I quickly cracked open my Bible to Psalm 42 and new it was time. I skimmed through the verses and began writing.
I ended up writing the entire piece in under 24 hours, completing it before I went to bed the next evening. It was a huge change for myself to just sit down and write an entire piece in such an incredibly short time frame. I sent it to my mentor and friend, Jacob Narverud, and asked him to give it a look before our next composition lesson. At the lesson, Jake revealed few editorial remarks and informed me that this piece was, “sophisticated and complex, but not so difficult it was unachievable.” I took great care to weave the text painting, especially towards the climax of the piece between the Sopranos and Altos.
This piece is recommended for an advanced chamber ensemble.
Written in dedication to my mentor and friend Dr. Sarah Higgins, premiered by the inaugural Cornerstone Summer Choral Institute; Topeka, Kansas, July 14, 2017