Unless preceded by concert credits, audio excerpts are MIDI realizations.
A Far Off Place
Large orchestra (1982)
(2002), ca. 25’. In two movements, inspired by the traditional song, “Down to the River to Pray.”
Excerpts of concerto recording: Robin Mayforth, violin; Music in he Mountains Festival Orchestra, Paul Perry
Concerto da Camera
Viola and small orchestra (2003), ca. 18’
A three-movement viola concerto that combines baroque and contemporary elements; its middle movement weaves the hymn “Abide with Me” into a multi-tonal tapestry.
Gardenias, a short orchestra piece with many melodies and
(2012), ca. 6’
2 fl.(picc.), 2 ob. (EH), 2 cl. (Eb, bass cl.), 2 bassoons; 2 horns; 2 trp. in C, 2 trb., tuba; 3 percussionists; piano; strings
Concert recording: Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra, Gregory Vajda
Soprano and orchestra, text by Francesca Hersh (2000), ca. 27’
A two-movement work ( I – The Taking, II – A Stone in My Heart), inspired by the recollections of a Hungarian Jew whose family was among the final victims of the Holocaust.
Concert recording: Kerry Walsh, soprano; Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra, Paul Perry
Cantata for soprano, tenor, women's chorus, and orchestra (texts by cummings, Hollo, Frost, and the Kabbalah) (1992, 2006), ca. 24’
Seven parts, played without interruption: a prelude (which navigates among many styles, including tango and big band), a choral interlude, and five songs. The first song is based on a medieval text; songs two and three are settings of poems by e. e. cummings. Song four is Anselm Hollo’s translation of a traditional Finnish text, “to make the cows come home,” and the final song is a setting of Robert Frost’s “Pasture.” The choral interlude is based on three Hebrew words – Aleph, Mem and Shin - known in the Kabbalah as “The Three Mothers.” It also includes mourning ululations, excerpts from Kaddish (the Hebrew prayer for the dead), and a brief setting of the traditional hymn, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.” In an epilogue, the soprano recites a four-line poem by Francesca Soriano Hersh.
The Food of Love
Two sopranos and string orchestra (2006), ca. 4’
If music be the food of love
Sing on till I am fill’d with joy.
The Nine Tailors
Soprano, tenor, baritone, and orchestra (2010), ca. 29’
In seven parts, united by the sounds and imagery of bells: I – Introduction; II – Christmas Bells [text by Longfellow]; III – The Bells of Hell, a WWI music hall song; IV – Melt the Bells; V – Anthem, For Doomed Youth [Wilfred Owen]; VI – Passacaglia (which overlays traditional bell melodies); VII – Finale.
The sensitive and exciting music of Howard Hersh belongs in the American canon.