“Family Portrait” dress rehearsal with over 250 musicians onstage

This is by far the most significant of my compositions.  It is a 60-minute oratorio for chorus and orchestra, with mezzo-soprano and baritone solos.  It was commissioned by my friend and colleague Judy Sadler Marlett and includes settings of 8 letters authored by her ancestors: Tyler, Lanie, and Percy Houghtaling.  Percy was Judy’s grand-father, Lanie was his mother, and Tyler (a member of the New York 94th Regiment, Company C during the Civil War) was Judy’s great-great grand-father.  The outer movements are bookend settings of an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s “To Think of Time.” Solos were specifically composed for Judy (an extraordinary mezzo-soprano) and Daniel Belcher (Grammy-winning baritone).  While some movements were premiered by the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, the complete work was premiered at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho (where Judy is Professor of Music).

The completed work had it’s Indiana premiere in October of 2017 with the Manchester Symphony & Chorus plus Manchester University choirs and choral ensembles from Warsaw, Northfield, and Fairfield high schools in the area. Soloists were the wonderful  Judy Marlett and Daniel Belcher, for whom the solos were composed. Several interviews and materials from that performance are linked below. The final link is to the PBS Broadcast of the performance itself.

PBS39 Interview with “A Family Portrait” directors and soloists: Debra Lynn, Daniel Belcher, Judy Marlett, and Scott Humphries (30 mins)

Below: Pre-performance video giving information about the compositional structure of the work, also insights from soloists Daniel Belcher and Judy Marlett. (15 mins):



PERFORMANCE LINK (1 hr, 15 mins):

PBS39 Broadcast of “A Family Portrait” performance at Manchester University

Below are photos of Lanie’s last letter, and also various rehearsals and performances.

Page 1 of Lanie’s final letter to her sister, Etta.
Page 2 of Lanie’s final letter to her sister, Etta.

Dress rehearsal footage of Judy Marlett singing the words from her great-grandmother’s final letter (shown above).

Click on any of the photos below to see them enlarged and captioned.




Premiere of “A Family Portrait”
Danny and Judy premiere the duet from “A Family Portrait”
Rehearsing “Family Portrait” with Vallivue High School Choir (Ron Curtis, director)
Daniel Belcher, sings “A Family Portrait”
Judy Marlett sings words from a letter written by her great-grandmother in “A Family Portrait”
Danny signing some autographs
Premiering “A Family Portrait” in Idaho
Judy Marlett, mezzo-soprano and me, flanking her mom — whose ancestors wrote the letters from which “A Family Portrait” was born
Me w/amazing mezzo-soprano, Judy Sadler Marlett