Under the direction of James Bass, There Are No Words was premiered in Carnegie Hall and Trinity Church in February 2013 by the University of South Florida Chamber Singers. The video above was recorded live in Tampa, FL in April 2013.
The composer explains: “There Are No Words” is a common phrase that we hear frequently. It is used when someone is emotionally overwhelmed, negative or positive, and it is in that sense that I titled this piece. More specifically, this work is a reflection on the many types of abuse that permeate our societies and communities. In an attempt to explain, justify, or place blame, the work slowly disintegrates into a textless, nonsensical texture; the final section of the piece presents fleeting harmonies and sentences made up of disordered words. In essence, this is a work about the helplessness and confusion often found as a side effect of violence and is modeled after our inability to comprehend particular behaviors and events. In an attempt to provide answers, the work simply falls apart.
This is a choral work about being speechless, and I struggled with ways of accomplishing this idea. Rather than using no text, I composed this text myself and it is made up of words relating to common types of violence, implements used in violent acts, and some descriptive phrases. Of course, the final section is really the “moral” of this piece and portrays the sense of speechlessness I am trying to capture. Working with James Bass and the Chamber Singers was an absolute pleasure. I thank them for their intense dedication to this project. As you can hear in the above video, this is a first-rate ensemble. In addition, my involvement in the premiere performances would not have been possible without the generosity of New Music USA’s Composer Assistance Program.