My City, 2015 (47′)
for solo voice, mixed choir, and orchestra
My City is a setting of two Walt Whitman poems about New York City, Mannahatta and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, with the former, simpler poem serving as an introduction to the epic work that follows. If you squint your eyes to get past the sometimes-outdated imagery and descriptions, Whitman’s New York is still very much our own. As well as any other artist, the great poet captures New York’s energy and sense of freedom, the strange interplay between individuality and collective spirit that I have never encountered anywhere else. In the latter poem, he extends his gaze across time, finding evidence of our common humanity through the lens of a simple boat ride. Whitman’s vision of humanity is not simple or clean but ambiguous and messy and decidedly of-our-time, a vision that I’ve entrusted to the great vocalist DM Stith, whose emotional openness and capacity for ambiguity makes him the perfect choice for this project.