"David Brunner's music is lyrical, fresh-sounding and always creative.  His music is a favorite with the choir as well as the audience!"

Lynne Gackle
School of Music
Baylor University

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The Incomparable Spivey Hall

I'm just back to Orlando after having spent the past three days with110 bright, eager and talented young singers from eighteen Georgia counties at the Spivey Hall Treble Honor Choir at Clayton State University.  Bravo to the organizers for providing a wonderful educational and artistic experience that began sixteen years ago under the artistic direction of Robert Shaw.  A highlight of the weekend was a phone call with artist friend Bill Worrell in Sedona, Arizona.  My A SONG TO END ALL WAR on his exquisite poem Lullaby For War was part of the program and in addition to singing it for him via iphone, we were able to ask questions about his work and hear him talk about the inspiration for the poem and all of his art. The hall itself is elegant, intimate and an acoustic gem.  And the splendid Fratelli Ruffatti organ -- which is gorgeous to look at -- really rang out on JUBILATE DEO.  A great weekend with the young singers of Georgia!


Congrats Dr. Miller!

Kelly Miller has completed her DMA at Michigan State University and has begun her college teaching career in choral music education at Western Illinois University.  Her dissertation on David Brunner's Music for Women's Choirs focuses on three of my treble works that are musically, textually and emotional appropriate for more advanced women’s choirs.  ALL I WAS DOING WAS BREATHING, I THANK YOU GOD FOR MOST THIS AMAZING and PAINTED MEMORIES are discussed in detail with regard to text, emotional content, stylistic features and vocal challenges, and her thorough examination of all of the treble works brought an informed perspective to the study.  I spent enjoyable hours with Kelly in person, on the phone and via email about this music and my composing life and found it interesting, informative and enlightening – especially having to name aspects of the process that are intuitive for me.  It’s a bit odd to read about myself in this scholarly context, but a distinct honor.  Thank you and congrats Dr. Miller!


New Launch of Simple Boat

Ron Ellis' new transcription of SIMPLE BOAT is simply stunning!  It was premiered today, under his direction,  by the University of Central Florida Symphonic Wind Ensemble, at the national convention of the American School Band Directors Association in Orlando.  Since my music (I thought) is inseparable from the words and emotional intent of the text, I was curious to see if it would translate as a purely instrumental work.  The colors that Ron coaxed from the ensemble in his exquisite scoring convince me that emotional content is inherent in the melodies, rhythms and harmonic language themselves; that form and architecture, gestures and turns of phrase, inevitability of harmonic rhythm all contribute to what we "feel" from the music.  I still know that the initial musical impulse, for me, comes directly from my response to the words (and thank Ron for including the texts in the players scores as they unfold).  I think and write poetically.   But I am also aware that emotion thus embedded in the musical language remains, whether or not the text is present.  I am honored by this transcription and the artistry our UCF students brought to the performance.


The Big Easy

Just home from Cheryl Dupont's marvelous Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans.  Cheryl and I worked with young singers from five states, culminating in a concert at the historic St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square.  The program included my PSALM 150, A SONG TO END ALL WAR, and A LIVING SONG.  Brava to Cheryl and her festival organizers for an outstanding weekend!  In addition to talented and eager singers, I enjoyed warm, southern hospitality and memorable seafood at the Palace Cafe, Bourbon House, Deanie's Seafood and the Redfish Grill, strawberry basil and lemon verbena ginger popsicles at Meltdown Gourmet Popsicles, a snowball (NOT snowcone) at Hansen's original 71-year-old location, and a beignet... or two.


Music For Friends

Much of my work is on commission, collaborations with new colleagues I’ve recently become acquainted with (or not yet met), or close friends with whom I have shared a long professional and personal history.  There are other times, however, when a new work happens for no reason other than I want -- and need -- to write something for someone dear to me. 

WELL SUNG SONG for my “second mom”, Sarah Schutte, is the most recent gift, just bestowed a few weeks ago.  It says what words alone cannot.  Friend and poet Scott Lounsbury describes our shared journeys and destiny in beautifully musical words.

ALL I WAS DOING WAS BREATHING was a dreamed-of project with my good friend Sandra Snow and her women’s chorus at Michigan State University, which she premiered at the 2009 national ACDA convention in Oklahoma City.  I was so taken by Dessislava Nenova’s cello performance in this piece, that I wrote a short solo cello work for her last year.

A LIVING SONG for Doreen Rao celebrated the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Choral Music Experience Institute for Choral Teacher Education in York, England in 2006.  IN THE BEAUTY WAY was also for Doreen at the 1997 Institute and TWO FOR FUN (Eletelephony and Mrs. Snipkin & Mrs. Wobblechin) were a gift of early pieces when I was an assistant director with her marvelous Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus.

I wrote a few birthday greetings and a wedding gift for long-time friend Jeff Reynolds.  He also initiated the THREE SONNETS OF JOHN DONNE (Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God, A Hymn to God the Father, At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners), the SATB version of O MUSIC, and the large scale choral/orchestral work ODE TO THE PRESENT AND FUTURE DAYS, which he premiered at Canterbury Cathedral in the summer of 2000.

I THANK YOU GOD FOR MOST THIS AMAZING was written for Stephanie Mitchell Nash and her Women’s Glee Club, when she was a doctoral student at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM was a surprise Christmas gift for my mom, sister and niece a few years back.

IF I COULD FLY was a gift for Bill Worrell, sculptor and friend from Art, Texas, whose work moves and inspires me.  This is actually an arrangement of a song he wrote and sent me.  A recording of him singing to his own guitar accompaniment with pinon fire crackling in the background is a treasured memento.

WINTER CHANGES was written for Dr. Robert E. Thomas, mentor and friend, who first introduced me to the young poet Emily Clare Forsythe by sending her poem in a Christmas card, saying she said I “had permission to set it to music if I liked”.  He, too, introduced me to ageless poetry, known by heart.  His recording of favorite poems is another special keepsake.  ACCEPTANCE was also written for Dr. Bob.

AFTER THE FIRE and IF I CAN HELP SOMEBODY were written for my own choirs at the University of Central Florida and first performed by them (and me).

THE US OF ME, my only authored text, was for Scott Sells, partner and friend.

Most of my Christmas music has been for me.  Whether there are fewer collaborative projects at this time of year, or because I have been drawn to interesting poetry of this season, many happened “just because”.  CHRISTMASTIDE, BEAUTIFUL STAR OF BETHLEHEM, THE SHEPHERD’S CAROL, WELCOME ALL WONDERS, CHAUNTECLEERE, DOWN IN YON FOREST, THE FRIENDLY BEASTS, STILL, STILL, STILL, IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER and NEVER A CHILD AS HE are all works I’ve just wanted to write.