As a composer of choral and vocal music, there is always one extra thing to worry about other than the music itself—the texts. For this reason I’m always on a constant lookout for poetry which I might like to set in the future and, sometimes, I’ll find it in the strangest of places. This particular text I happened upon posted on the door of one of my best friends, Ryan Newstrom.
From the moment I read it I knew that I would eventually set it to music. It expresses something that almost any musician knows to be true; that music puts us in touch with a higher power, something inexpressible and infinitely beautiful. I asked him immediately if I could use it in a piece and without hesitation he said ‘yes.’
After deciding upon a Latin translation I found Dr. Byron Stayskal, Assistant Professor of Classics at Luther, to do it for me. He is not only a brilliant teacher but also an amazing pianist and passionate musician and I am eternally grateful that he agreed to take this on. Dr. Stayskal provided me with a beautiful, poetic translation of the original text which I immediately set to work on.
Unlike a lot of my choral pieces, Musica animam tangens was composed not on commission but instead was written as a gift for Weston Noble. His sincere, unending support of my music and guidance in times of trouble means more to me than words can express and, since he is the person who initially encouraged me to put the proverbial pen to paper, I wanted to attempt to give a gift worthy of his wisdom and humility. The message in Ryan’s poetry is at the heart of something that took Mr. Noble’s help for me to finally realize in my own life—the message that there is an undeniable connection between God and music.
Musica animam tangens is the winner of the 2003 Raymond W. Brock Memorial Student Composition Contest sponsored by the American Choral Directors Association and is dedicated with love and gratitude to Maestro Weston Noble.