New work for baritone featuring the poems of Clifford Brooks III

I had the pleasure of connecting with a local poet, Clifford Brooks, and getting to learn about his Southern Collective Experience. He gifted me a couple of his poetry books and I've selected a set of poems to work with to create a new cycle.

The following page will show the evolution of the composition from idea to performance.


In my world, the seclusion of working in a musicians world [sometimes] can limit expansion/growth, necessitating the need to branch out with other artists... My good friend, Benjamin Schoening, asked me to compose a new song cycle for him. As I tried to find text for it, I came up with the idea to do poems about children. I’ve always worked with dead poets/writers, and it was time to branch out.

Initially, I fleshed out outlines and sought out freelancers to connect my ideas into poetry (with the hope) that I could create workable text for a new cycle. Unfortunately, the texts I got back were not usable - so I requested changes (but my changes I’d attach samples of what I was looking for) and one of the poets said - “why don’t you use what you are writing?” Fast forward - I hired an editor and wrote everything myself (but, I acknowledge that I am more a composer than a poet).



To help improve my writing skills I sought out other writers and organizations and stumbled upon Clifford Brooks III and his collective. If you know me, I keep insanely busy... but, I was finally able to meet Clifford and he was a breath of fresh air (an artist in the truest sense that seems to share similar ambitions/dreams).

With two of his books in hand, I have been slowly experiencing his poetry and have selected several poems to do a cycle. At the present, I am shooting to have this cycle ready for a concert date of April 1 for baritone, saxophone, cello, piano, and electronics.


Last night (December 27) I pulled out a notebook and started to outline a movement. I hear the text in a D minorish mode (at least everything is centered/homed) to D.


Everything I heard on the Nightless Dream poem was a dud. I took what I mapped out and then when I saw it on the page, I only heard cheese. I didn't stop - I was teaching L'Homme Arme and found that an adaptation of it was really cool on the melody. I also modernized it and put some delays on the acoustic instruments. Next step will be more movements and getting feedback from the performers.

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The first part is clear and composed. The premiere date had to be moved to the third week of April. I'll be getting to work with the ensemble very soon.