Composer-violinist Caleb Burhans (Alarm Will Sound, Newspeak, itsnotyouitsme, etc.) had a few minutes to discuss his current album Evensong.
You can purchase the album here or on the link on the bottom.
CM: Can you please talk about Evensong and how it came together? It appears to be one of the most well-received recordings this year.
Caleb: Evensong is essentially a look at the music I’ve produced over the past decade for two of my musical families Alarm Will Sound, Trinity Wall Street Choir, as well as my friends Tarab Cello Ensemble. I’d been meaning to release an album of my music for some time but the opportunity didn’t present itself until I was contacted by the late Douglas Lowry, former Dean of the Eastman School of Music, who made it all possible. The concept behind the album came from my friend, Wesley Chinn, who also served as my assistant for the album. Traditionally, when recorded, the “Magnificat” and “Nunc dimittis” go together, but Wesley had the idea of splitting them up to serve as bookends for the album, thus turning the album into a musical service of sorts.
CM: Perhaps one of the most gorgeous things I have heard is the “Magnificat” with the Trinity Wall Street Choir. Have you thought about composing entire choral works like that?
[Photo left, courtesy of Chester Higgins, Jr]
Caleb: Having sung in church choirs for over twenty years, service music is something very dear to my heart. I have and continue to set Psalms on a pretty regular basis. At some point I’d love to write more, such as a Mass and a large scale setting of the “De Profundis”.
CM: You had a busy year this year musically, and you are also now a dad. Has this proved challenging?
Caleb: Fatherhood is definitely presenting new challenges. My concept of time has, and continues to change. since time is extremely limited, I find myself doing the bulk of my work in my head, be it practicing or composing. Then when I have a spare moment I’ve (hopefully) figured out exactly what it is I have to commit to at that moment.
CM: I have to say it is exciting to see and hear you perform with various acts outside the classical/new music realm, whether it’s Fun. or it’s a local artist like our mutual friend Debbie Chou. I take it these gigs are both fun and they are somewhat supportive of the compositional side of your career, correct?
Caleb: At this stage in my career, I rarely take things on that I don’t enjoy doing. composing can be a very lonely endeavor. As a performer I get to relish all of the communal aspects of music, wether it be playing in a string quartet or sitting in as a sideman with a band. the composite of all of these interactions is what makes me who I am as a musician. so yes, it’s something I enjoy doing, but it’s also something that I have to do and can’t imagine not doing.