Let me go where’er I will,

I hear a sky-born music still:

It sounds from all things old,

It sounds from all things young,

From all that’s fair, from all that’s foul,

Peals out a cheerful song.


It is not only in the rose,

It is not only in the bird,

Not only where the rainbow glows,

Nor in the song of woman heard,

But in the darkest, meanest things

There alway, alway something sings.


‘T is not in the high stars alone,

Nor in the cup of budding flowers,

Nor in the redbreast’s mellow tone,

Nor in the bow that smiles in showers,

But in the mud and scum of things

There alway, alway something sings.


– Music, by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist and transcendental philosopher

While simple enough, this text holds deep meaning for me. I discovered it in a book of selected poetry for children shortly after my son was born. Since then, it has functioned as an anchor in many ways. Often the most beautiful (or be it, meaningful) experiences are generally the most challenging and superficially unattractive.

For me, this poem is full of idealism and hope, in the ugliness, in the reality, something we unfortunately do not share enough. I have wanted to set this text for some time, and thanks to the encouragement of two Kansas City choral ensembles and generous support of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in August 2015, I finally have done so.

The Transcendentalists shared a key belief that each individual could transcend, or move beyond, the physical world of the senses into deeper spiritual experience through free will and intuition. The interconnectedness between man and the universe is absolutely fascinating and magical. Spirituality is something that has become more valuable to me as I grow older, and the cyclic nature of my growth process is comprised of many arches and counterparts. By celebrating the ordinary, I am reminded to seek the extraordinary through the everyday. Hopeful, indeed!

Sky-born will premiere February 3, 2017 at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

40 Part_Brochure_02

Duration: 5:30 minutes