Valley of Silence Premiere


Amarillo Civic Chorus and Orchestra The world premiere performance of "Valley of Silence" on November 10, 2006 was very well received. I had been working on "Valley of Silence" for almost a year. I located a poem called "Song of the Mystic" by Rev. Abram J. Ryan in December of 2005 and started coming up with music in January 2006. The chorus had been working on it since August 2006. What an exciting moment to perform a newly composed work for chorus and orchestra in a newly built performing arts hall for an audience of about 500, many of whom had never been to a Civic Chorus performance nor had they been to a performance in the new Globe News Center for the Performing Arts. It was a night of "firsts".

I so appreciate the work the chorus put in preparing this work. Many expressed their enthusiasm to me and told me what their favorite sections were. I had some fun comments comparing the sections to other composers (from Ralph Vaughn Williams to music from the "Lord of the Rings") which I consider to be quite a compliment. A gentleman in the audience, Charles Gillingham, who took a photograph from the concert was kind enough to let us use the photo for the CD and DVD cover. I think it looks spectacular. This is the jewel case (pictured below) that I designed for the CD.Civic Chorus CD Jewelcase

I sent a recording to Samuel Jones, a well-known composer who I highly respect. Dr. Jones has written two wonderful symphonies for the Amarillo Symphony (Symphony No. 3 - the Palo Duro Symphony and Roundings: Musings and Meditations on the Texas New Deal Murals). Whenever I compose something I'm especially proud of, I send Sam a copy and ask for his comments. This is what Sam Jones observed about Valley of Silence:

"I listened to your CD yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously, the chorus and the audience did, too. I was afraid the opening was going to stay in B minor a bit too long, but then with the sixth stanza you began to modulate. By the time you got to the eighth stanza I felt you reached your most distinctive musical statement. The oscillating thirds over the F-sharp pedal was very effective, somewhat reminiscent of Hanson's "Lament of Beowulf." All in all, it was a lovely piece, one which I'm sure the chorus found gratifying and rewarding.
All best wishes,


High Plains Public Radio (HPPR) broadcasts an hour-long program called "Monday with the Maestro". They were very interested in interviewing me about the premiere and wanted to hear about the process of how a composer creates such a work. The recording of the interview (minus the recording of the concert) has been split into three parts. My deepest thanks go to Mary Palmer and Stacy Yates at HPPR for putting this interview together: