El Salto 1
December 13, 2005
Nouwen Chapel, Yale University
New Haven, CT

El Salto's debut explored the Christmas season from a humanist prespective.

(For more information please contact Robin McClellan via email.)

PROGRAM (scroll down for full TEXTS and AUDIO):
The following music and readings were presented during El Salto's recent debut.

Opening Congregational Song
El Salto Song (based on Gaelic congregational singing and 12th-century French organum (two-part Gregorian chant)

First Reading
W.H. Auden: “The Summons” from For the Time Being

First Musical Presentation
Ingram Marshall (text: Auden): Mary’s Manger Lament
Abigail Haynes, soprano; Mellissa Hughes, soprano; Ian Howell, alto; Zachary Wadsworth, tenor; Ryan Brandau, bass

Second Reading
Sarah Teasdale: “The Carpenter's Son”

Second Musical Presentation
Benjamin Britten: Variation III from A Boy was Born
Abigail Haynes, soprano; Mellissa Hughes, soprano; Ian Howell, alto; Zachary Wadsworth, tenor; Ryan Brandau, bass

Talk Benjamin Britten: On Receiving the First Aspen Award

Third Reading
Sylvia Plath: “Dialogue Between Ghost and Priest”

Third Musical Presentation
Jonathan Russell: Expanding and Contracting
Margaret Carey, violin; Jennifer Chen, flute; Ian Howell, drums; James Moore, guitar

Fourth Reading
C.S. Lewis: from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Closing Musical Presentation
Benjamin Britten arr. Jeff Buckley: Corpus Christi Carol
Mellissa Hughes, soprano; James Moore, guitar


About the program

Tonight’s El Salto approaches the Christmas season from a humanist perspective. The readings and musical texts begin by addressing the basic question of what it is to be human, placing the birth and life’s work of Jesus in an intimate, emotionally immediate context. The program goes on to explore the intensity and transformative power of human love in general.

The first reading presents the three Wise Men as they travel toward Bethlehem. Each gives his reason for following the star: to be truthful, to live in the present, to be more loving. One could view these men as the first Christians; the first to follow Jesus. In this light, Auden presents us with a profoundly humanist view of Christianity: at the end of the reading the three Wise Men summarize their reasons for following the star–which here can represent the whole Christian faith: "to discover how to be human now is the reason we follow this star".

Ingram Marshall's music (with text from the same oratorio by Auden) follows this scene with a moving depiction of Mary's thoughts as she cares for the baby Jesus. Her reference to "an anxiety your Father cannot feel" draws a sharp distinction between Jesus' humanity and his divine origin. This music also vividly depicts the simple mother-son interaction, in which she foresees his later passion and death and mourns him simply as a son.

In the final lines of the next reading, Sarah Teasdale takes up this disconnect between mother and son: Mary cannot understand the calling her son feels to answer the vast suffering of humanity. Teasdale also depicts Jesus in a vividly human light: he is simply a carpenter's son in an average town, who happens to have an unusual talent for sensing and responding to the pain of his fellow humans. The next musical presentation takes up where the final lines of Teasdale's poem left off: in the haunting music by Benjamin Britten, we can hear the very voices Jesus has just heard calling him in the desert: "Jesu, save us all..."

The speech by Britten which follows this music departs from the Christmas theme, to make a general commentary about the role of the composer in society. A large part of El Salto's purpose is to redefine and refresh the interaction between composers of "contemporary classical music" and contemporary society. Britten's words speak plainly and powerfully against the tendency, in the 20th century, for composers to retreat from the world around them: "I can find nothing wrong with...offering to my fellow men music which may inspire them or comfort them, which may touch them or entertain them, even educate them–directly and with intention. On the contrary, it is the composer's duty, as a member of society, to speak to or for his fellow human beings."

Though the next reading has no reference to Christmas, Sylvia Plath takes up the question of divinity presented in the earlier texts, and sets it starkly against the human principle. The poem's powerful punchline, "There sits no higher court than man's red heart", could be seen as a direct rebuff to one of the central tenets of the Christian faith: Plath seems to rule out the possibility of a divine principle, placing humanity, and especially our ability to love, at the pinnacle of the universal order. In the context of the other texts so far, this contradicts one of the main Christian teachings about Jesus: that he is part human and part divine.

After an instrumental selection by Jonathan Russell, the next reading, from the well-known Narnia Chronicles, returns to Jesus, reminding us of perhaps his most human trait of all: his mortality. The depiction of Aslan's death, a metaphor for that of Jesus, harks back to the sad predictions made by his mother, heard earlier in Auden's text. Susan and Lucy's bereavement reminds us not only of Mary's predictions but of the maid in the final musical presentation which follows this reading: in this music by Britten (arranged by Jeff Buckley), the maid who weeps "both night and day" is like Susan and Lucy, and the Knight–or "Corpus Christi"–replaces Aslan.

This final musical presentation also relates closely to the Sylvia Plath poem which placed human love at the center of all: though the text here can be heard as a relatively conventional Christian metaphor, it could also be heard outside the orthodoxy of Christian doctrine: perhaps the maid, in love with the Knight, is mourning simply a person, whom she loved very much, and who embodied the immense and sufficient power of human love.

For many of us, these readings and music may raise interesting and difficult questions. We invite you to think hard about whatever it is that strikes you most, and we hope you will come away with some new idea or perspective, whether small or vast.

In addition to the connections outlined above, many of the texts and music you will hear are interconnected in practical ways. In 1942, W.H. Auden completed the libretto for a Christmas oratorio, For the Time Being, which he intended for Benjamin Britten to set to music. The first reading is an excerpt from Auden’s oratorio, in which the three wise men are approaching Bethlehem. For various reasons Britten never set the oratorio to music, and it remains without a complete musical setting.

In the music that follows the reading, Ingram Marshall (a composer both internationally known and local to New Haven) has set a short excerpt from the oratorio, thus partially fulfilling Auden’s original intention. Not to leave Britten out, however, the next piece is an excerpt from Britten’s unaccompanied choral Christmas piece, A Boy Was Born. The final musical presentation this evening is also a movement from Britten’s A Boy Was Born. This time the original choral version has been replaced by an arrangement for voice and guitar by the singer and songwriter Jeff Buckley, who included it on his album Grace.

When considering who should give the talk for this El Salto (every El Salto includes one), we decided that, for a humanist, musical event, who better than Benjamin Britten himself. Though, unfortunately, Britten couldn't be here to speak to us himself, we took the liberty of borrowing one of his old speeches, as relevant now as it was when he gave it in 1963.



Opening Congregational Music: El Salto Song

2 Cantors (v1)        We cry out in joyful, solemn song
                            the choir resounds in symphony

All (v2)                 We leap ahead, within, beyond
                            join voice in sympathy

2 Cantors (v1)        Our proud harmony casts a searching light
                            for all those gathered here in unity

All (v2)                 We leap ahead, within, beyond
                            now we will seek new sounds

All (v1)                  We with golden sound will reveal
                             the bright worlds hidden close around us

All (v2)                  We leap ahead, within, beyond
                             now we will hear new songs


First Reading: “The Summons”by W.H. Auden
From Auden’s libretto for the oratorio For the Time Being
At this point in the story, the three wise men are following the Star of the Nativity
toward Bethlehem. 

To break down Her defences
And profit from the vision
That plain men can predict through an
Ascesis of their senses,
With rack and screw I put Nature through
A thorough inquisition:
But She was so afraid that if I were disappointed
I should hurt Her more, that Her answers were disjointed—
I did. I didn't. I will. I won't.
She is just as big a liar, in fact, as we are.
To discover how to be truthful now
Is the reason I follow this star.

My faith that in Time's constant
Flow lay real assurance
Broke down on this analysis—
At any given instant
All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,
And facts have no endurance—
And who knows if it is by design or pure inadvertence
That the Present destroys its inherited self-importance?
With envy, terror, rage, regret,
We anticipate or remember but never are.
To discover how to be living now
Is the reason I follow this star.

Observing how myopic
Is the Venus of the Soma,
The concept Ought would make, I thought,
Our passions philanthropic,
And rectify in the sensual eye
Both lens-flare and lens-coma:
But arriving at the Greatest Good by introspection
And counting the Greater Number, left no time for affection,
Laughter, kisses, squeezing, smiles:
And I learned why the learned are as despised as they are.
To discover how to be loving now
Is the reason I follow this star.

The weather has been awful,
The countryside is dreary,
Marsh, jungle, rock; and echoes mock,
Calling our hope unlawful;
But a silly song can help along
Yours ever and sincerely:
At least we know for certain that we are three old sinners,
That this journey is much too long, that we want our dinners,
And miss our wives, our books, our dogs,
But have only the vaguest idea why we are what we are. 
To discover how to be human now
Is the reason we follow this star.


First Musical Presentation: Mary’s Manger Lament (SSATB Choir)
by Ingram Marshall 
text by W.H. Auden from For the Time Being

Oh shut your bright eyes that mine must endanger
With their watchfulness: protected by its shade
Escape from my care: what can you discover
From my tender look but how to be afraid?
Love can but confirm the more it would deny.
   Close your bright eye.

Sleep.  What have you learned from the womb that bore you
But an anxiety your Father cannot feel?
Sleep.  What will the flesh that I gave do for you,
Or my mother love, but tempt you from His will?
Why was I chosen to teach His son to weep?
   Little one, sleep.

Dream.  In human dreams earth ascends to Heaven
Where no one need pray nor ever feel alone. 
In your first hours of life here, O have you
Chosen already what death must be your own?
How soon will you start on the Sorrowful Way?
   Dream while you may.


Second Reading: “The Carpenter's Son” 
 by Sarah Teasdale

The summer dawn came over-soon,
The earth was like hot iron at noon
In Nazareth;
There fell no rain to ease the heat,
And dusk drew on with tired feet
And stifled breath.
The shop was low and hot and square,
And fresh-cut wood made sharp the air,
While all day long
The saw went tearing thru the oak
That moaned as tho' the tree's heart broke
Beneath its wrong.
The narrow street was full of cries,
Of bickering and snarling lies
In many keys—
The tongues of Egypt and of Rome
And lands beyond the shifting foam
Of windy seas.
Sometimes a ruler riding fast
Scattered the dark crowds as he passed,
And drove them close
In doorways, drawing broken breath
Lest they be trampled to their death
Where the dust rose.
There in the gathering night and noise
A group of Galilean boys
Crowding to see
Gray Joseph toiling with his son,
Saw Jesus, when the task was done,
Turn wearily.
He passed them by with hurried tread
Silently, nor raised his head,
He who looked up
Drinking all beauty from his birth
Out of the heaven and the earth
As from a cup.
And Mary, who was growing old,
Knew that the pottage would be cold
When he returned;
He hungered only for the night,
And westward, bending sharp and bright,
The thin moon burned.
He reached the open western gate
Where whining halt and leper wait,
And came at last
To the blue desert, where the deep
Great seas of twilight lay asleep,
Windless and vast.
With shining eyes the stars awoke,
The dew lay heavy on his cloak,
The world was dim;
And in the stillness he could hear
His secret thoughts draw very near
And call to him.
Faint voices lifted shrill with pain
And multitudinous as rain;
From all the lands
And all the villages thereof
Men crying for the gift of love
With outstretched hands.
Voices that called with ceaseless crying,
The broken and the blind, the dying,
And those grown dumb
Beneath oppression, and he heard
Upon their lips a single word,
Their cries engulfed him like the night,
The moon put out her placid light
And black and low
Nearer the heavy thunder drew,
Hushing the voices . . . yet he knew
That he would go.
A quick-spun thread of lightning burns,
And for a flash the day returns—
He only hears
Joseph, an old man bent and white
Toiling alone from morn till night
Thru all the years.
Swift clouds make all the heavens blind,
A storm is running on the wind—
He only sees
How Mary will stretch out her hands
Sobbing, who never understands
Voices like these.


Second Musical Presentation: from A Boy was Born (SSATB Choir)
by Benjamin Britten

Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, Jesu,
Save us all through Thy virtue.

Jesu, as Thou art our Savior
That Thou save us fro dolour!
Jesu is mine paramour.
   Blessed be Thy name, Jesu.

Jesu was born of a may,
Upon Christemas Day,
She was may beforn and ay,
  Blessed be Thy name, Jesu.

(“beforn=before; “ay”=after)


Short Talk  by Benjamin Britten:
from his acceptance speech on receiving the First Aspen Award, 1963

I simply could not imagine why I had been chosen for this very great honour. I read again the simple and moving citation. The keyword seemed to be 'humanities'. I went to the dictionary to look up its meaning, I found Humanity: 'the quality of being human' (well, that applied to me all right). But I found that the plural had a special meaning: 'Learning or literature concerned with human culture, as grammar, rhetoric, poetry and especially the ancient Latin and Greek Classics'. (Here I really had no claims since I cannot properly spell even in my own language, and when I set Latin I have terrible trouble over the quantities–besides you can all hear how far removed I am from rhetoric.) Humanitarian was an entry close beside these, and I supposed I might have some claim here, but I was daunted by the definition: 'One who goes to excess in his human principles'. I read on, quickly. Humanist: 'One versed in Humanities', and I was back where I started. But perhaps after all, the clue was in the word 'human', and I began to feel that I might have a small claim.

I certainly write music for human beings–directly and deliberately. I consider their voices, the range, the power, the subtlety, and the colour potentialities of them.  I consider the instruments they play–their most expressive and suitable individual sonorities . . . I also take note of the human circumstances of music, of its environment and conventions; for instance, I try to write dramatically effective music for the theatre. And then the best music to listen to in a great Gothic church is the polyphony which was written for it, and was calculated for its resonance: this was my approach in the War Requiem-I calculated it for a big, reverberant acoustic and that is where it sounds best.

You may ask perhaps: how far can a composer go in thus considering the demands of people, of humanity? At many times in history the artist has made a conscious effort to speak with the voice of the people. Beethoven certainly tried, in works as different as the Battle of Vittoria and the Ninth Symphony, to utter the sentiments of a whole community. From the beginning of Christianity there have been musicians who have wanted and tried to be the servants of the church, and to express the devotion and convictions of Christians, as such.

At a very different level, one finds composers such as Johann Strauss and George Gershwin aiming at providing people–the people–with the best dance music and songs which they were capable of making.  And I can find nothing wrong with the objectives–declared or implicit–of these men; nothing wrong with offering to my fellow men music which may inspire them or comfort them, which may touch them or entertain them, even educate them–directly and with intention.

On the contrary, it is the composer's duty, as a member of society, to speak to or for his fellow human beings.


Third Reading: “Dialogue Between Ghost and Priest”
by Sylvia Plath

In the rectory garden on his evening walk
Paced brisk Father Shawn. A cold day, a sodden one it was
In black November. After a sliding rain
Dew stood in chill sweat on each stalk,
Each thorn; spring from wet earth, a blue haze
Hung caught in dark-webbed branches like a fabulous heron.

Hauled sudden from solitude,
Hair prickling on his head,
Father Shawn perceived a ghost
Shaping itself from that mist.

'How now,' Father Shawn crisply addressed the ghost
Wavering there, gauze-edged, smelling of woodsmoke,
'What manner of business are you on?
From your blue pallor, I'd say you inhabited the frozen waste
Of hell, and not the fiery part. Yet to judge by that dazzled look,
That noble mien, perhaps you've late quitted heaven?'

In voice furred with frost,
Ghost said to priest:
'Neither of those countries do I frequent:
Earth is my haunt.'

'Come, come,' Father Shawn gave an impatient shrug,
'I don't ask you to spin some ridiculous fable
Of gilded harps or gnawing fire: simply tell
After your life's end, what just epilogue
God ordained to follow up your days. Is it such trouble
To satisfy the questions of a curious old fool?'

'In life, love gnawed my skin
To this white bone;
What love did then, love does now:
Gnaws me through.'

'What love,' asked Father Shawn, 'but too great love
Of flawed earth-flesh could cause this sorry pass?
Some damned condition you are in:
Thinking never to have left the world, you grieve
As though alive, shriveling in torment thus
To atone as shade for sin that lured blind man.'

'The day of doom
Is not yet come.
Until that time
A crock of dust is my dear home.'

'Fond phantom,' cried shocked Father Shawn,
'Can there be such stubbornness--
A soul grown feverish, clutching its dead body-tree
Like a last storm-crossed leaf? Best get you gone
To judgment in a higher court of grace.
Repent, depart, before God's trump-crack splits the sky.'

From that pale mist
Ghost swore to priest:
'There sits no higher court
Than man's red heart.'


Third Musical Presentation:  Expanding and Contracting
(for flexible instrumentation; here performed by flute, violin, drum, and guitar)
by Jonathan Russell

Program Note:
Expanding and Contracting is a meditative work that happens to have intricate mathematical processes underlying it. There's certainly no need to be aware of these processes in order to experience the piece, and some people may find that thinking about them just gets in the way. If you think this may be you, then I suggest you close your program, sit back, and let the music wash over you. Or it might work best to sit back and listen first, then come back and read these notes after you hear it.
            But for the brave and musically/mathematically geeky souls who are interested in knowing the processes, I will now describe them as best I can. The piece is in three parts and the instrumentation is open-ended; one part is for any keyboard, strummed, or mallet instrument(s); another part is for any treble melodic instrument(s); and the third part is for any two drums of indefinite pitch. Each part rhythmically expands for the first half of the piece and then contracts for the second half, but each does this according to a different mathematical pattern.
            The keyboard/strummed/mallet part is in an undulating eighth-note pattern throughout, moving through a sequence of seven chords. The first iteration is a sequence of only two chords, but each iteration thereafter adds one more chord on the end until it reaches all seven chords. Not only does it expand by adding one more chord each time, but the number of beats that each chord is played also increases by one prime number each time, and each chord lasts a number of beats that is a prime higher than the previous chord in the sequence. This process peaks at 37 beats for the 7th chord in the series, and then the process goes in reverse, each iteration having one fewer chord, and each chord lasting a prime number shorter than the previous.
            The treble melodic part undergoes a somewhat similar process, but using the fibonnaci series instead of prime numbers. The fibonnaci series is a pattern found frequently in nature (spirals, for example) in which the next number in the set is the sum of the previous two numbers in the set (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55 etc.) The treble melody part consists of an ascending scale, starting with three pitches and adding one pitch each time it starts over from the bottom. The number of beats of each pitch follows the fibonnaci series, with each new melodic pitch lasting the length of the next number in the series. The length of rests in between each iteration of the melody also increases along the fibonnaci series. This goes up to 55 beats on the highest note reached and then the process runs in reverse, the melody descending.
            The drum part starts with three increasing squares of eighth note groupings (2 sets of 2, 3 sets of 3, 4 sets of 4), and then increases arithmetically, peaking at groupings of 10 eighth notes before running in reverse.
            This may all sound very abstract and intellectual, but my ear and intuition were always closely involved in the compositional process. The processes weren't an abstract and pre-determined imposition, but rather grew out of compositional experiments and tests as I worked on the piece. Still, this whole approach (in which I had a calculator close at hand throughout the compositional process) is unlike any piece I've composed before or since - I'm usual a pretty intuitive and instinctive composer. Unlike any other piece I've composed, even to me, the composer, this piece is mysterious and unpredictable every time I hear it.                    
                                                                                                –Jonathan Russell


Fourth Reading: From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  
by C.S. Lewis

As soon as the wood was silent again Susan and Lucy crept out onto the open hilltop. The moon was getting low and thin clouds were passing across her, but still they could see the shape of the Lion lying dead in his bonds. And down they both knelt in the wet grass and kissed his cold face and stroked his beautiful fur—what was left of it—and cried till they could cry no more. And then they looked at each other and held each other's hands for mere loneliness and cried again; and then again were silent. At last Lucy said,
"I can't bear to look at that horrible muzzle.  I wonder could we take it off?"
So they tried. And after a lot of working at it (for their fingers were cold and it was now the darkest part of the night) they succeeded. And when they saw his face without it they burst out crying again and kissed it and fondled it and wiped away the blood and the foam as well as they could. And it was all more lonely and hopeless and horrid than I know how to describe.  "I wonder could we untie him as well?" said Susan presently.  But the enemies, out of pure spitefulness, had drawn the cords so tight that the girls could make nothing of the knots.
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been—if you've been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you—you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.  At any rate that was how it felt to these two.  Hours and hours seemed to go by in this dead calm, and they hardly noticed that they were getting colder and colder. But at last Lucy noticed two other things.  One was that the sky on the east side of the hill was a little less dark than it had been an hour ago. The other was some tiny movement going on in the grass at her feet.  At first she took no interest in this. What did it matter?  Nothing mattered now!  But at last she saw that whatever-it-was had begun to move up the upright stones of the Stone Table. And now whatever-they-were were moving about on Aslan's body. She peered closer. They were little gray things. 
"Ugh!" said Susan from the other side of the Table. "How beastly! There are horrid little mice crawling over him.  Go away, you little beasts." And she raised her hand to frighten them away.
"Wait!" said Lucy, who had been looking at them more closely still. "Can you see what they're doing?"
Both girls bent down and stared.
"I do believe—" said Susan. "But how queer! They're nibbling away at the cords!"
"That's what I thought," said Lucy. "I think they're friendly mice.  Poor little things-they don't realize he's dead.  They think it'll do some good untying him."
It was quite definitely lighter by now. Each of the girls noticed for the first time the white face of the other. They could see the mice nibbling away; dozens and dozens, even hundreds, of little field mice. And at last, one by one, the ropes were all gnawed through.
The sky in the east was whitish by now and the stars were getting fainter—all except one very big one low down on the eastern horizon.  They felt colder than they had been all night.  The mice crept away again.
The girls cleared away the remains of the gnawed ropes.  Aslan looked more like himself without them. Every moment his dead face looked nobler, as the light grew and they could see it better.


Closing Musical Presentation: Corpus Christi Carol arr. voice and guitar
by Benjamin Britten, arr. Jeff Buckley
NOTE: the words have been modernized by Buckley from Britten’s old English text

 He bear her off, he bear her down
 He bear her into an orchard ground

 Lu Li Lu Lay
 Lu Li Lu Lay
 The falcon hath borne my mate away

 And in that orchard there was a hold
 That was hanged with purple and gold
 And in that hold there was a bed
 And it was hanged with gold so red

 Lu Li Lu Lay
 Lu Li Lu Lay
 The falcon hath borne my mate away

 And on this bed there lieth a knight
 His wound is bleeding day and night
 By his bedside kneeleth a maid
 And she weepeth both night and day

 Lu Li Lu Lay
 Lu Li Lu Lay
 The falcon hath borne my mate away

 By his bedside standeth a stone
 Corpus Christi written thereon

About the Composers

Ingram Marshall lived and worked on the West Coast from 1970 to 1989; his current base is Connecticut. He studied at Columbia University and California Institute of the Arts, and has been a student of Indonesian gamelan music, the influence of which may be heard in the sense of time and use of melodic repetition in his music.  His music has been performed by ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, American Academy of Arts and Letters and Guggenheim Foundation. He has performed his live electronic music pieces such as Gradual Requiem and Alcatraz widely in Europe and the USA.

His music is often characterized by the use of real time digital processing, as in Hymnodic Delays which was commissioned by Paul Hillier and The Theater of Voices, or combining pre-recorded sounds with live ensembles as in Kingdom Come, which was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra. Both of these pieces have been recorded on Nonesuch, and his award winning Fog Tropes for tape and brass sextet has been recorded for both Nonesuch and New Albion, for which label he will soon release a new CD featuring Savage Altars for chorus and tape.

He has taught at Brooklyn College, the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music.


Jonathan Russell is a Professor of Musicianship at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a frequent new music concert reviewer for the San Francisco Classical Voice, and an active composer, clarinet/bass clarinet player, and conductor in the San Francisco Bay Area. He plays in, composes for, and is co-founder of the new music band Oogog and the bass clarinet duo Sqwonk, both dedicated to creating new music that bridges the gap between “classical” and “popular” music. His compositions have been performed by many ensembles, including the San Francisco Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Woodstock (NY) Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, and the new music band Fireworks. He has a BA degree in music from Harvard University and a MM degree in composition from San Francisco Conservatory. His composition teachers have included Dan Becker, Elinor Armer, Eric Sawyer, John Stewart, and Eric Ewazen. For more information, visit him online at: www.jonrussellmusic.com


Benjamin Britten (1913-1976 ) was an English composer, conductor and pianist.  An exceedingly practical and resourceful musician, Britten worked with increasing determination to recreate the role of leading national composer held during much of his own life by Vaughan Williams, from whom he consciously distanced himself. Notable among his musical and professional achievements are the revival of English opera, initiated by the success of Peter Grimes in 1945; the building of institutions to ensure the continuing viability of musical drama; and outreach to a wider audience, particularly children, in an effort to increase national musical literacy and awareness. Equally important in this was his remaining accessible as a composer, rejecting the modernist ideology of evolution towards a ‘necessary’ obscurity and developing a distinctive tonal language that allowed amateurs and professionals alike to love his work and to enjoy performing and listening to it. He also performed a fascinating, as well as problematic, assimilation of (or rapprochement with) the artistic spoils of the East, attempting an unusual integration of various non-Western musical traditions with his own increasingly linear style.  (bio adapted from Grove Music Online)


Jeff Buckley was born in California's Orange County in 1966 and died in a tragic drowning accident in Memphis on May 29, 1997. He had emerged in New York City's avant-garde club scene in the 1990's as one of the most remarkable musical artists of his generation, acclaimed by audiences, critics, and fellow musicians alike. His first commercial recording, the four-song EP Live At Sin-é, was released in December 1993 on Columbia Records. The EP captured Buckley, accompanying himself on electric guitar, in a tiny coffeehouse in New York's East Village, the neighborhood he'd made his home.  (bio from www.jeffbuckley.com)



Ryan Brandau (Conductor, Yale School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music)
Margaret Carey (Violist, Yale School of Music)
Jennifer Chen (Flutist, Yale School of Music)
Abigail Haynes (Soprano, Yale School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music)
Ian Howell (Alto, Yale School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music)
Mellissa Hughes (Soprano, Yale School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music, El Salto co-organizer)
James Moore (Guitarist, Yale School of Music)
Zachary Wadsworth (Composer, Yale School of Music)

texts have been presented here for informational purposes only