Graduation + Summer Plans

Photo by BJ Zeyer (

Last week, I graduated with a degree in music from BYU.  It was a great experience.  Typically, I don’t care about ceremonies of these kind, especially since the majority of my family wouldn’t be there (We’re spread across California, Utah, Germany, & Ukraine).  I decided to do it for my grandma’s sake (it’s very important to her).

Photo by BJ Zeyer (

As the event approached and I got my garb ready, I started doing it more for me than for anyone else.  Participating in this commencement and convocation became more important to me.  I’ve just finished a college degree.  Less than 1% of the world’s population has a college degree.  I’ve worked hard for this and accomplished something remarkable.  I’ve achieved fewer things greater than this.  Of course I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a huge amount of help along the way, namely from my awesome family.  I saw it as more important for me now.  Closure.  Catharsis.  I don’t know how to explain it more than that.

After graduation I took a trip down to Mexico with my roommates and other friends graduating.  We went down to a friend’s beach house near Puerto Peñasco.  It was awesome.  I left the laptop at home, the mobile phone in the car and just sat on the beach.  Four days of escape.

Next, I’ll be traveling to London for a study abroad in english choral music (we’ll see if we can make a quick trip to Ireland while I’m there).  Then I’ll be traveling to Gießen, Germany to visit my sister and her family.  Finally, I’ll be in Ukraine to visit my parents.  Who knows what else might pop up.

I’ll be back in Utah by July, where I’ll have nothing to do until starting the Masters program in September.  I’ll take my laptop on these trips and be blogging about them as I go.  Should be fun!

Photo by BJ Zeyer (


Working on yet another piece

I don’t know why, but I’m really good at starting pieces and ideas but really bad at finishing them.  I woke up this morning and just lay in bed for a while.  Just like any choral nerd, I started thinking about choral music, in particular, choral music accompanied by the organ.  For some reason I starting think about the organ as an instrument.  It’s such a massive, complex instrument; It’s virtuosity fascinates me.  I thought innocently, “if I composed a piece for organ, what would it sound like?”

Suddenly, the music started exploding in my head, as if to say, “this is what it would sound like.”  My brain was flooded with this furious, rapid-fire music.  I got out of bed, ran to the piano with my notebook and started writing.  In the process, I almost lost what I heard in my bed, but out of sheer grace, I finally got it out on paper and started to flesh it out.  It’s only a small part, but it’s hugely important.  I think it’ll be ternary in form, and will be based on quintal harmony.  It’s working title right now is “Tocatta in Fifths.”

I don’t really know how to write for it but have a friend who told me she’s willing to give me a crash course in composing for organ.  Hopefully, she’ll get me all informed.  I might get this piece done before we even get together!  She’ll be fixing my music after the fact.

As far as the other pieces I’m working on, “Gloria,” is still going well, if not stubbornly, and “Water Lilies” is in full polish mode.  “Hosanna filio David” on the other hand is on the back burner.  I’ve got a good idea for it, but I’m too distracted or I can’t hear it quite right.  It’s so fluid right now there’s just nothing solid to dictate.  I still want to write it, just can’t right now.  Maybe when I get better at what I’m doing.

My Flat in London

Classes are over, one more final left, a concert, two recording session, my London prep class and then GRADUATION!  Finishing my undergrad is bittersweet, but I feel like I’ve really accomplished something that I’m sure others thought I could never do.  It hit me about a month ago, “Hey, I’m almost done with my Bachelors!  Flip!”

After I gra-juh-muh-cate I fly to London for a study abroad.  We’re going to study English choral music for five weeks.  I love how we can get so specific with this!  We started making housing arrangements (I’ve got the best roommates) and found the address of where we are staying: 37 Hyde Park Gate in South Kensington.

Isn’t this awesome?!?  It’s right across the street from Hyde Park and right down the street from Royal Albert Hall.  It’s gonna be a good summer.

That’s all for now.  Still working on “Gloria.”  Let’s see if I can finish it before graduation.  It’s just the B section that’s killing me.

Working on a New Piece

I hope my "Gloria" sounds something like this. Caligraphy by Friedrich Peter.

It’s been a while. School is getting super busy as we’re approaching the end of the semester, so I’ve been focusing on other things. In spite of the great “winding” down, I’ve been able to start working on a new piece. I’m working on a new setting of the old liturgical text “Gloria.”  I’ve always found this text compelling (as with the other texts associated with the mass), and felt that for some reason a new setting would be fun to write.  It’s helping me to write something fast and (relatively) light.  I’ve been writing surprisingly fast (for my pace), which I usually find to be a good thing (“Midnight Clear” anyone?).

I have, however, decided to use only portions of the text for this specific setting.  It’s a wonderful text in it’s entirety but sometimes can get a little “wordy” (which happens to be the main reason I don’t set the “Credo” to music).  Here are the selected words I’m using:

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Laudámus te,
benedícimus te,
adorámus te,
glorificámus te,

grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Miserére nobis.

Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus, tu
solus Altíssimus,
Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spíritu: in glória Dei


Glory be to God on high.
And in earth peace towards men of good will.
We praise thee.
We bless thee.
We worship thee.
We glorify thee.

We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.
Have mercy upon us.

For thou only art Holy. Thou only art the Lord.
Thou only, art Most High
O Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost, in the glory
of God the Father.

We’ll see how it works out.  I’m setting it with an unusual voicing: SSATBB, six voices.  We’ve been doing some pieces in BYU Singers with this specific voicing and a lot of Renaissance composers used it for many of their pieces.  I find this particular voicing to have a very strong, and intriguing color about it.  It’s limiting, yes, being constrained to six voices, but the timbre possibilities are plentiful.  It’s such a dynamic and flexible voicing that any limitations are outweighed by the benefits.  Besides, it’s good to work with limitations sometimes, it forces you to be creative in other ways.  Other times, it’s just plain annoying.

Oh, here’s the first page.  Surprise!

Yeah, it’s rough.  This will look different later.  Revisions are inevitable.

P.S. This week I learned how to sing Anglican Chant!