Song Cycles by a Math Teacher
My song cycles are informed by over ten years of teaching math and working with students of all ages, from elementary school children to prison inmates. "Teacher Tales," to which I authored the lyrics, bears personal witness to an ever growing segment of impoverished citizens. "My Biggest Mistake" is based on a conversation with a Baltimore mother had to work so hard to provide her son with the basic necessities that she regretted even having a him. "The Food Chain" is my cynical reflection on bullying, and "A Serf To Your Wage" parodies the lessons taught in schools that, as Noam Chomsky puts it, manufacture consent. I borrow musical ideas from cabaret, jazz, and twelve-tone music to give these sinister texts an American flavor. These songs were runner up in the Arcade Emerging Composers Competition.
After "Teacher Tales" I composed "Grief Never Leaves," three apolitical songs influenced by Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder." These songs take influence from post-romantic and feature an oboe. These songs were streamed as a virtual concert from Stages Music Arts in Timonium. Taylor Hillary Bokins and Aaron Thacker performed "Teacher Tales;" Laura Snyderman, Lydia Consilvio, and Lior Willinger performed "Grief Never Leaves."
For my next song cycle, I'm commissioning three Baltimore City high school poets to write the lyrics. I am offering these poets are receiving mentorship and guidance, and in mid-2021, the lyrics will be complete and I will begin writing the music.