• La Frontera

    I felt called to compose La Frontera (The Border). a setting of the poem for SATB + piano. The poem bears witness to the struggles of an undocumented  youth trying to immigrate, but held in a maximum security detention center in the US. Information about the piece and free download of the scores are available here. Performance royalties will go to the Detained Children’s Program of CAIR, as do profits from the book Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum Security Detention, published by Settlement House Books. Thanks go also to poet Seth Michelson, who led poetry workshops in one of these centers resulting in these poems.

    This image is by Tony Webster, and licensed via Wikimedia Commons   CC BY 3.0 ; it has not been altered.

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  • La Frontera

    La Frontera (The Border) is a setting of a poem by that name for SATB Chorus and piano. The poem was written by an undocumented immigrant youth imprisoned in an American maximum security detention center. The full program notes are available below. Given the extraordinary cruelty and tragedy of the treatment of immigrants, I was moved to set this poem to music both to bear witness to the problem and to help bring more attention to the issues of immigration. We need comprehensive immigration reform and we need it now!

    The above image is by Tony Webster, and licensed via Wikimedia Commons   CC BY 3.0 ; it has not been altered in any way.

    Program Note

    La Frontera (The Border ) is a poem by an undocumented immigrant youth imprisoned in an American maximum security detention center. Sadly, wecannot know the identity of the author due to governmental restrictions. But the words cry out to be heard and immortalized in music, scored  for chorus and piano, with additional versions for solo soprano or tenor and piano. I was drawn to set this poem because it captures the dark realities of the immigration process as well as the powerful desire to immigrate to America.

    As the granddaughter and wife of immigrants, indeed as a citizen of the UnitedStates, I am deeply aware of both the astonishing and ongoing contributions of immigrants as well as the despicable treatment so many experience. Why do we forget our own status as immigrants or descendants of immigrants, and then deny the status of those who descend from indigenous peoples?

    This poem, and the others published in the collection Dreaming America , was written during workshops held for immigrant youths in detention led by poet Seth Michelson. Some were created in collaboration with students from Washington and Lee University; others benefitted from visits by guest artists Jimmy Santiago Baca and Ricardo Dominguez. Larry Moffi, publisher of Settlement House Books, brought the book Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum Security Detention to fruition and kindly granted permission to set this poem to music. Profits from the book sales are donated to the Detained Children’s Program of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (www.caircoalition.org), to whom I will also donate my royalties. The .pdf of the  score is  available free of charge and choruses are invited to contribute to this organization in lieu of score purchase. Here are the links to .pdf’s of the various versions: piano/vocal choral version, open score choral version, soprano & piano, tenor & piano. –JS

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  • Rising on the Wings of Dawn

    When  Delvyn Case approached me  about  composing, a short piece for violinist Wendy Case, based on a Psalm, I  immediately thought of Psalm 139.  I had been partial to it for quite some time, and previously set verses from it for soprano and organ in a piece named for another of its images: And Night Will Shine As Day. This time, I chose Rising on the Wings of Dawn.In both, I was drawn to the  idea of the intimacy of being known by God. I responded by composing a piece that embodies a rising shape in its overall structure, its melodic design and the prominence of harmonics. The overtone series is itself a rising blend of pitches whose unified vibration is a wonder, and whose individual harmonics have a beautiful shimmer. I am grateful to violinist Wendy Case for our collaborative explorations and dedicate this piece to her.

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  • Zamir Chorale Interview

    “…Part of the the Zamir Chorale of Boston’s series “Kolot Nashim: The Many Voices of Women in Jewish Music.” Prof. Judith Shatin discusses her career and her Jewish-themed compositions with Prof. Joshua Jacobson. The recording of Shatin’s “Hark My Love” has been graciously provided by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music ©Milken Family Foundation. The full-length version of this interview is also available. www. JewishChoralMusic.com www.Zamir.org….”

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  • Tape Music∞: Sabot School

    This documentary includes a discussion of Tape Music∞, clips from my work with the students at the Sabot Point School in Richmond, drawings they made in response to the piece, and the premiere performance at the 2013 Third Practice Festival on 11/2/13 at the University of Richmond. The piece can be performed by any number of participants plus stereo electronic playback made from processing of recordings of myself ripping, snapping, and otherwise manipulating a variety of tapes and a cardboard box. As you will see, the materials needed are minimal: a couple of rolls of tape, one of which is on a dispenser with teeth; a blunt pencil or similar object; a towel to put them on. The end of the video includes the most wonderful thank you note I have ever received: a piece called Everyday Music inspired by my work with the students, who formed their band Skool Supplies to perform it.

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  • Tape Music∞: CHO Boys and Girls Club

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  • Shatin’s Review of Comparing Notes: How We Make Sense of Music by Adam Ockelford

    New Music Connoisseur, Vol. 24 #1, Shatin’s review of Ockelford: Comparing Notes, How We Make Sense of Music

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  • Kassia Ensemble Commission

    The Kassia ensemble commissioned the first piece composed for their entire sparkling ensemble of clarinet, harp and string quintet, and I have responded with Kassia,  inspired by the 9th-century abbess, poet and hymnographer. She is the only woman whose music is included in the Eastern Orthodox Church liturgy, and likely the first woman whose music has survived until now! I have referenced fragments of two of her chants and was also inspired by rreadings of her poetry in the original Greek. This ensemble affords a wealth of timbral beauty. Stay tuned for the premiere date!

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  • Hehuanshan for Bass Drum & Optional Interactive Electronics

    Hehuanshan (Mountain of Joy) is scored for solo bass drum and optional interactive electronics. It was inspired by, and is a tribute to, I-Jen Fang, with whom I have studied percussion for two years. The title reflects the ongoing delight of this experience with hours that had the fleet feel of minutes. Hehuanshan is located in Taroko National Park in Central Taiwan. The pandemic has led to the postponement of the premiere, but stay tuned!

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  • The Best Angel in Heaven, for Sandra Santos-Vizcaino

    I composed The Best Angel in Heaven in the cruel month of April, 2020, in memory of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, the wonderful third-grade teacher at PS 9 in Brooklyn, NY who passed away from Covid-19. You can hear the beautiful performance by soprano Victoria Erickson and pianist Arlene Shrut here. 

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