Christian B. Carey

Composer, writer, performer

Thursday 11/19: De Mare at Symphony Space

Last month, I heard the second installment of Anthony De Mare’s Liasons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano project at Sheen Center. De Mare has commissioned dozens of composers to fashion arrangements of Sondheim songs. The results are as fascinating as they are eclectic.

On Thursday at Symphony Space, De Mare completes his live presentations of the commissions with a third concert. Among the featured composers are Steve Reich, David Rakowski, Paul Moravec, and Duncan Sheik. The concluding arrangement is by De Mare himself: “Sunday in the Park – Passages.” Sondheim will be on hand and the ECM recording, a 3-CD set, will receive its official release.

There are some tickets left to the performance (buy here).

Hymn for Harvard Chapel Service

On November 24th at 8:45 AM, Carson Cooman will be playing a chapel service consisting entirely of my music at Appleton Chapel of Memorial Church at Harvard University. In addition to performing the solo organ piece “Chanson Variations,” he will be joined by the Harvard Choral Fellows to premiere my Psalm 103 anthem and the hymn setting Add One More Seat.
The latter piece I wrote with my wife Kay Mitchell. We have dedicated it to our Pastor Jeffrey William Mays, who is retiring after many years of service at Christ Congregation in Princeton.

Here is a MIDI demo:


I know it is a bit on the early side, but I would love to see some of my Boston friends there if you can make it.

Performances of Magnificat Antiphons

The Wesley Choir of Wesley United Methodist Church in Vienna, Virginia, conducted by Dr. Gareth H. Bond, will be premiering my cycle of Magnificat Antiphons throughout the 2015 Advent Season. Here are the performance dates and a bulletin insert that discusses the pieces.

11/15 Offertory “O Sapientia” by Christian Carey

11/15 Anthem “O Adonai” by Christian Carey

11/22 Anthem “O Radix Jesse” by Christian Carey

11/29 Anthem “O Clavis David” by Christian Carey

12/6 Offertory “O Oriens” by Christian Carey

12/6 Anthem “O Rex Gentium” by Christian Carey

12/13 Anthem “O Emmanuel” by Christian Carey


Seven Magnificat Antiphons

Christian Carey, Composer

World Premier performed by the Wesley Choir November 15 – December 13, 2015 Wesley United Methodist Church Vienna, Virginia

Directed by Gareth H Bond, DMA

Translation by Brendan C Muse

Antiphons began in the Ancient Grecian Age as main actors/speakers would lead conversations and two vocal choruses on either side of the stage would engage each other sometimes repetitively, other times as question‐answer, yet others as differences of opinion.

As time progressed, this form found its way into the church as separate smaller choirs or choirs of voice qualities (e.g. men’s versus boy’s timbres), more along the ‘question‐answer’ arrangement.

In this very interesting composition, Mr. Carey invites yet other forms of antiphonal writing: 1) Intertwined choral and quintet (five voice) options and antiphons imbedded within the composition itself without the exclusivity of the individual voice and 2) By using the color (timbre) of the voice part development by “high‐low” arrangements rather than any one type divisi.

Eclectically influenced these works house styles of Chant, Renaissance, pre‐Baroque, Baroque forward.

Perhaps the SMAs best format of performance might be with a choir of 32 to 40 equally divided members and voicing. But the smaller size of the Wesley Choir and its quality of vocal talent retains its inclusion as a viable performance medium for this wonderful composition and collection of seven antiphons each based on one of the verses of a favorite Carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.

About the composer:

Christian Carey is an Associate Professor of Music at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in

Princeton, New Jersey. He serves on the Board of Directors of the League of Composers/ISCM and as Managing Editor of the contemporary classical website Sequenza 21. His music has been performed by ACME, Atlantic Chamber Orchestra, Cassatt String Quartet, C4 Choral Ensemble, Chiasmus, Ionisation New Music Ensemble, League of Composers, loadbang, Locrian Chamber Players, Manhattan Choral Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, Righteous Girls, St. Dunstan’s Choir, and St. Gregory’s Choir and appears on New Focus Records and a Perspectives of New Music/Open Space CD. He has published articles and reviews in Perspectives of New Music, Tempo, Integral, Musical America, Musicworks, Playbill, and Time Out NY. He has a book chapter in Hommage a Elliott Carter, published by Editions Delatour.

1. O Sapientia

O wisdom, which comes forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end of the earth to the other,
firmly and gently ordering all things: come to teach us the path of prudence.

2. O Adonai

O Lord and leader of the house of Israel
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave the law to him on Sinai: Come to save us in your outstretched arms.

3. O Radix Jess

O offspring of Jesse, who stands under the banner of the peoples, before whom kings will close their mouths
Whom the peoples will pray for: Come to free us; do not be late now.

4. O Clavis David

O key of Daivd and scepter of the house of Israel,
who opens, and no one closes; who closes, and no one opens;
come, and lead the conquered out of the house of imprisonment sitting in the darkness and the shadow of death.

5. O Oriens

O rising sun, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice:
Come and illuminate those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death.

6. O Rex Gentium

O king of the races, and their desire,
and the keystone that joins them together:
come and save mankind, whom you have shaped from mud.

7. O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our king and law‐bringer, awaited by the nations, and their savior: come to save us, lord our God.

Textbooks for Spring 2016

Required texts for Spring
Analytical Studies I – TH251: Engaging Analysis:

Engaging Music by Deborah Stein (published by Oxford University Press)
ISBN-13: 978-019517010

Winter Music, Composing the North by John Luther Adams (Wesleyan University Press)
ISBN-13: 978-0819567420

How to Write About Music, Edited by Mark Woodworth, Ally Jane Grossan (Bloomsbury)
ISBN: 9781628920437

TH 452: Music and Ecology:
The Place Where You Go to Listen by John Luther Adams (Wesleyan)
ISBN-13: 978-0819569035

The Soundscape by R. Murray Schafer (Destiny)
ISBN-13: 978-0892814558

Deep Listening by Pauline Oliveros (iUniverse)
ISBN-13: 978-0595343652

Plus readings by John Cage, James Tenney, Wilfrid Mellers, Paul D. Miller, and more!

John Burge on Centrediscs

Chamber Music of John Burge

Ensemble Made in Canada

Centrediscs CD


On his latest recording for Centrediscs, Canadian composer John Burge presents three pieces that showcase different members of Ensemble Made in Canada. Pas De Deux features violinist Elissa Lee and cellist Rachel Mercer, both playing soaring lines that serve to propel the proceedings. They then work themselves back in short angular bursts.


String Theory is another duo that has been arranged for several string instrument/piano combinations. This version is for viola and piano, played by violist Sharon Wei and pianist Angela Park. Passionate, throbbing glissandos abound in this Neoromantic work, as well as dazzling double stops and richly voiced piano chords.


Commissioned by the ensemble for their entire number, the Piano Quartet opens with repeated chords in a minimalist gesture. Contrapuntal writing interrupts this. It is only in the third movement of the piece, after a long three-movement arch (alternating slow-fast-slow tempos) has been established, that we hear this ostinato return to be resolved. Thus for Burge, minimalism is not a stylistic determination, but a musical gesture: one signature in a batch of them to be used, contravened, and ultimately unwound.


Artful composing and fine players: a good match.

De Mare Plays Sondheim


On Thursday, October 22nd at the new downtown New York venue the Sheen Center, an acoustically generous and attractive performance space, we heard the second of three concerts presenting selections from Anthony de Mare’s ambitious commissioning project Liasons: Reimaginings of Sondheim from the Piano. De Mare has recorded the 36 commissioned pieces for ECM Records, which has released a generously annotated 3 CD set of them.


De Mare is an ideal advocate for this music. His touch at the piano is at turns muscular, dexterous, and tender, well able to encompass the many demeanors the commissioned composers adopted when interpreting Sondheim’s songs. De Mare’s experience as a teacher (at Manhattan School of Music) was on display as well. Abetted by brief video interviews with a few of the featured composers, he gave short explanations of each piece from the piano. For the students and devotees of musical theatre on hand, these explications were no doubt an invaluable introduction to a number of composers and an integral part of the experience. For those of us familiar with the classical composers commissioned for the project, there were a number of anecdotes and musical details that revealed intriguing pieces of information about the genesis of the programmed pieces and their creators’ interest in particular aspects of Sondheim’s work.


With such an embarrassment of riches on display, it is difficult to pick favorites. For me, Ricky Ian Gordon’s take on “Every Day A Little Death,” from A Little Night Music, was truly lovely, and it was given a nearly impossibly gentle rendition by De Mare. Nils Vigeland’s imaginative version of material from Merrily We Roll Along was a standout: compositionally well structured, balancing thematic transformation with retaining a sense of the title tune’s “hummable” character. Phil Kline took material from a lesser-known Sondheim musical, Pacific Overtures, and made “Someone in a Tree” an especially memorable offering. Nico Muhly’s “Color and Light,” from Sunday in the Park with George, gave De Mare a motoric, post-minimal workout. In “Birds from Victorian England,” based on material from Sweeney Todd, Jason Robert Brown had the pianist playing with three overdubbed instruments, while Rodney Sharman’s “Notes of Beautiful” from Sunday, judiciously included playing inside the piano.


De Mare plays the final concert of the Sondheim triptych at Symphony Space on November 19th. Based on his performance at the Sheen Center, it is a “can’t miss” event.

Petition to Save WCC Piano Program

As you can read here in the Trenton Times, this week cuts were announced by Rider University President Dell-Omo. Thirteen majors, including the piano performance major at Westminster Choir College, are affected.

Thanks to all those of you who have written expressing concern. Many of us are hopeful that the piano degree program will be restored. How can you help? One way is to sign the petition currently circulating on (linked below). Petition: Save the Piano Major at Westminster Choir College

Upcoming Performances


24- Carson Cooman, organist and choir director – Chapel service consisting entirely of my music, including Psalm 103, Chanson Variations, and a new hymn setting, Appleton Chapel, Memorial Church, Harvard University, 8:45 AM.


15- Magnificat Antiphons, Wesley United Methodist Church, Vienna, Virginia, 11 AM.

8- Magnificat Antiphons, Wesley United Methodist Church, Vienna, Virginia, 11 AM.

1- Magnificat Antiphons, Wesley United Methodist Church, Vienna, Virginia, 11 AM.

Hauschka – Stromness (Eluvium remix)

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