Listen & Look

Time

Presented at Theatre Horizon for “An Evening with Rachel Camp.” In reflecting about what she’d like to sing in her show, Rachel realized that she didn’t have a song about bodies—something she thinks about a lot. We talked about it and I wrote this song. Words and music by Pax Ressler, conceived with Rachel Camp. In this video, Rachel Camp sings, Katie Horner plays the piano and Steve Gudelunas plays the drums.

1-page preview of “Time”

Hope is the thing with feathers


Commissioned and performed by the Chestnut Street Singers for their concert “As Birds Do Sing”. Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” struck me as the perfect fit for a concert celebrating the natural world, including birds and trees—and the 5th anniversary of the Chestnut Street Singers. I was excited by the challenge of musicalizing “hope”, a word that shouldn’t be understood as unequivocally positive or simple. In setting this text, I sought to reflect the uncertainty of hope, suspended and resolved, and ascending ever so slightly over time (note the chromatic bass line of the first four chords). Hope isn’t easily pinned down, and has a tendency to change us more than the object of our hoping.

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1-page preview of “Hope is the thing with feathers”

To purchase the performance rights to this piece, please visit the Contact tab.

As They Draw to a Close


Commissioned and performed by “Beyond Ourselves” and the Lancaster Mennonite High School Campus Chorale (text by Walt Whitman, 1871). This original, commissioned composition was written for Bb clarinet, alto saxophone, viola, piano and SATB chorus. Whitman’s “As They Draw to a Close” (referring to the end of his poems) is an ambitious existential statement, his manifesto and justification for writing poetry. In musicalizing this poem, I wanted to capture Whitman’s urgency and grandeur. As Whitman seeks to marry his soul with Nature through his poetry, I sought to marry the instruments and chorus in a unified musical partnership.

1-page preview of "As They Draw to a Close"

1-page preview of “As They Draw to a Close”

To purchase the performance rights to this piece, please visit the Contact tab.

I Guess You Could Call Her


This piece is a song from “Home of the Trojans”, a musical based on Greek mythology performed at Goshen College. Killian sings to an admirer during halftime of the homecoming football game. This live recording features Adriel Santiago, Josh Yoder, Chelsea Wimmer, Justin Yoder and Ruth Lehman Wiens.

1-page preview of "I Guess You Could Call Her"

1-page preview of “I Guess You Could Call Her”

To purchase the performance rights to this piece, please visit the Contact tab.

Hard Times, Come Again No More


Written for and performed by the Chestnut Street Singers of Philadelphia for their concert “To Arms”. This piece is my arrangement of the 1854 American tune by Stephen Foster. “Tis the song, the sigh of the weary: hard times, come again no more.” 

1-page preview of "Hard Times, Come Again No More"

1-page preview of “Hard Times, Come Again No More”

To purchase the performance rights to this piece, please visit the Contact tab.

Ave Maria


Commissioned by the St. Joseph Valley Camerata and performed by the women of the St. Joseph Valley Camerata and Christine Larson Seitz, piano, under the direction of Scott Hochstetler. This piece was originally written to be performed in concert alongside Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” for men’s voices. To that end, this “Ave Maria” is quite different from the Biebl—perhaps most notably the “Angel Dance” section at the end of the piece. Sets of three permeate the “Angel Dance” section: an accent on every third pair of eighth notes in the piano bass clef, a traveling three-note texture in the piano treble clef, and “stacked thirds” as each new vocal line enters the dance. These sets of three refer to the completed Trinity, welcoming the long-expected Son.

1-page preview of "Ave Maria"

1-page preview of “Ave Maria”

This piece has been published and is available for purchase at Camerata Press.

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