Saturday November 11, 2017


The 18th Annual

“A Recital of Original Compositions”


Matthew Baier

Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 8 PM*

* Please note the change in venue:

Grace Episcopal Church

130 First Avenue

Nyack, New York 10960



 Agnus Dei and Trio for Flute, Guitar & Violin (2017)

Also featuring

 Songs on Poems by Jocelyn DeCrescenzo (2007) and Songs on Poems by E.E. Cummings (1015 – 2017) and more…

With performances by Sopranos Marigene Kettler, Melissa Alexander and Amy Lehman

With Jacquelyn Drechsler – Flute, Christopher Cardona – Violin and Matthew Baier – Guitar

Reception following to celebrating our 18th Year!

Admission is $20.00


Program Notes by the Composer

Program Notes by The Composer

Suite For Guitar

The melodic structure of these pieces is derived from a simple ascending sequence stated in the opening prelude. The melody is treated like a tone row and used in a serial technique. That is to say, the notes appear in the same order repetitively with variations determined by the starting point in the scale and the direction in which it proceeds. It is harmonized diatonically (major and minor) but uses the same serial principals applied to the counterpoint. The form of the work is modeled after the Baroque suite, following the prescribed types of dance movements, the contrasting major and minor keys as well as each pieces’ precise form (Free, Binary or Ternary).


“Parnassus” – Sonata For Guitar & Strings (2013)

Parnassus is a mountain in central Greece, which rises above the town of Delphi. According to Greek mythology this mountain was sacred to Apollo and home to the three original muses and so, also came to be known as the home of poetry, music and learning.

These three muses, (goddesses or nymphs) are said to be the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Their names, Melete (practice), Mneme (memory) and Aoide (song) together denote the three requirements considered necessary to obtain the best performance of poetic art.

This Sonata in the twelve-tone style is based on my wife’s name, Emily P. Holmes. While I was working on it she related to me a dream she had had in which she was trying to get to Parnassus for a music lesson. So, with this the work was dubbed with the title “Parnassus” and the three movements were named after the muses.

The twelve – tone or serial technique used here was pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg (1874 -1951). In this method the 12 tones of the chromatic scale are arranged in a fixed order. These are set within a system, which allows for forty-eight variants of the original series or row, and thereby provides a means for motivic construction and unification within the musical work.

I have taken liberties to deviate from the strict rules of this style of writing from time to time as needed to allow the musical ideas and phrases that were presenting themselves to proceed naturally and musically.


Music For Guitar by Stanley Solow (1994)

These pieces are from Stanley Solow’s opus “Jazz Solos for Acoustic Guitar” published by Mel Bay Publications in 1994. The twelve solos in this book are a collection of character pieces named after family members, dedications to colleagues, titles of interest based on the experience of living in Queens and working on Long Island. Others arise out of the shear joy of playing and teaching about not only music but also many of life’s lessons, which often intersect the arts.

This volume was dedicated in part to keyboardist, William Irwin who suggested that, “original music be composed for the guitar that would use scales, modes, harmonies and rhythms that could only have been derived from the great polyethnic society of the U.S.A”.  To this end Mr. Solow displays some of the possibilities of blending the melodic and harmonic idioms of Blues and Jazz with that of the technique of the multi-voice Classical Guitar.

I began my study of the “Classical Guitar” with Mr. Solow in 1977. There was no way of knowing then that the relationship would be life long. And, that what he so generously imparted to me would become the most predominant part of my creative identity; The Guitar. A day does not go by where I do not stop to consider this and feel deeply grateful.

Three Songs On Sonnets By William Shakespeare No 1. (1999)

The most delightful aspect of these sonnets for me is the way in which Shakespeare’s metaphors get right to the heart of the matter, with language that is both deeply poignant and simply adept. These sonnets are structured in quatrain and couplet form. Rhetorically, the quatrain prepares for the conclusion in the couplet. I’ve treated them freely allowing the words and imagery to suggest the musical phrasing. Special attention was given to musically establish the mood of the poems through the use of particular modes. The imagery is further reflected by a technique called word painting in which the word meanings are depicted by corresponding musical events.

Transmigration No 1.   (2010) Music by Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander, Film, by Tony Grocki

Transmigration No 1.  (2010) Music by Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander, Film, by Tony Grocki

Transmigrate: to cause to go from one state of existence or place to another.

All of the sounds heard here (except for the sampled bird’s wings) have been extracted from previous live recordings of solo flute parts from a number of my compositions as performed by Jacquelyn Drechsler. The sounds were then organized into a series of parameters indicating the thematic structure and compositional techniques to be used, as well as the electronic manipulations to occur. All of these elements are arranged in Sonata form. The musical intent is to suggest that the convergence of the original work(s) would naturally generate a new work containing elements of the works collectively although dramatically very different.

Electronic music: The origins of electronic or electro – acoustic music can be found in the technological advances of the early twentieth century which led to composers to search for new instruments and sounds. The result was the invention of the Electronic Organ, Ondes Martenot and the Theramin to name just a few. In the post-war period three main mediums of electronic music developed and took hold. The first was musique concrete, which made use of the magnetic tape recorder that was able to record, store and allow a variety of natural and or electronically created sounds to be manually manipulated. Next came the synthesizer that combined sound generators and modifiers within a compact system. This wide array of sounds could be used in a less time consuming way than the previous method. Finally there is the computer, which can depict sound waves by graphs and analyze and manipulate them by numbered representation. Today all of these mediums are available within the realm of computer based sound and music programs.

In assessing this music (as well as many modern or contemporary art forms) aesthetically the following basic questions or guidelines are to be considered: Is it organized, fun, climactic, does it have a sense of space and phrase and finally does it convey meaning?

While creating the film Tony and I considered a number of ideas of how to represent “transmigration” and relate it to the human condition. As the work developed it was evident that the combination of sounds and images would speak on their own in a very personal way to each individual. Please feel free to speak with the filmmaker and composer after this performance. We would welcome your impressions.


Transmigration No. 2  (2011) Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander

This electronic work is a musical collage created from the entire open microphone cassette recording of my November 2000 recital at St. Paul’s Festival of the Arts in South Nyack in its entirety. Its themes feature that night’s audience, performers and host’s incidentals and asides in an attempt to engage the audience tonight in a way that may be somewhat unexpected.

The tape recording has been sampled and manipulated with the aide of computer software but common composition techniques in terms of form, balance and structure have been applied. As its title suggests, it is recycled. The sounds, resting spaces and vocal catch phrase may point in any number of directions in terms of meaning, which is left for you to interpret.

  •  “All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone… the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act”. Marcel Duchamp: (1887-1968) French Surrealist.
  •  The auditorium lights will remain dimmed during this performance. Please stay seated.

Versions Of A Girl  (2013) Film by Tony Grocki, Music by Matthew Baier with Larry Alexander

Program note by Tony Grocki: The main premise of this film is the question – What would you tell a younger version of yourself if you could go back in time and meet them? Or in this case – what would you tell 2 younger versions of yourself, if you went back and met both of them? “Versions of a girl” is a play on this proposed meeting.

Program note by Matthew Baier: Work on this composition began organically from its title. All harmonic and melodic material in the piece is derived from the texts phonetics as aligned with a major scale. The harmony’s movement or rhythm was taken from the syllabic structure of the words and sentence.  The sung portions exploit the use of the vowels while other sections employ the vowels and consonants serially. Additionally there is humming and the sound of the “A Syllable”.

The instrumentation includes electronic treatments of shruti box, shofar, acoustic guitar and voice. The parts were created, recorded in multiple layers, positioned in an improvised manner and then balanced around the film and the voice-overs. The final mix also includes some sound effects as suggested by Tony Grocki.


My Lord God  (2013)

Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968) was a Trappist Monk of the Abbey of Gesthsemani, Kentucky. As a member of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.) he was part of the Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered monastics following the order of the Rule of St. Benedict whose motto is “pray and work”.  He was an author, essayist, poet, pacifist social activist and student of comparative religion. One of his most well known books is his autobiographical “Seven Story Mountain” (1948) in which he recounts his conversion experience. A proponent of interfaith understanding, he wrote over seventy books and had dialogues with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, D.T.Suzuki and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

For more on Merton’s writings please visit: The Institute for Contemplative

 “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov. 16:9)


Lullaby For Guitar  (2005)


This piece is a companion work to my “Songs On Poems by R.M. Rilke” NO.s 1 & 2 (2005). It makes use of a G tuning on the guitar (D G D G B E) for expanding the open range of the instrument and its soothing sonority. My hope is that its sentiment and emotional effect may touch everyone’s sense of the child within.


Sonnets By William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)


Sonnet 147 (1609)

My love is like a fever, longing still

For that which no longer nurseth the disease,

Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,

Th’ uncertain sickly appetite to please.

My reason, the physician to my love,

Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,

Hath left me, and I desperate now approve

Desire is death, which physic did except.

Past cure I am, now reason is past care,

And frantic mad with evermore unrest;

My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,

For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,

Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.


Sonnet 87 (1609)

Farewell; thou art too dear for my possessing,

And like enough thou know’st thy estimate.

The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;

My bonds in thee are all determinate.

For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,

And for that riches where is my deserving?

The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,

And so my patent back again is swerving.

Thy self thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,

Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking;

So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,

Comes home again, on better judgment making.

Thus have I had thee like a dream doth flatter,

In sleep a king but in waking no such matter.


Sonnet 98 (1609)

From you I have been absent in the spring,

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,

That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.

Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell

Of different flowers in odor and in hue,

Could make me any summer’s story tell,

Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew;

Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,

Nor praise the deep vermilion of the rose;

They were but sweet, but figures of delight,

Drawn after you, you pattern all of those.

Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,

As with your shadow I with these did play.


I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I

Think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.


I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do

That You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for You are ever with me,

And You will never leave me to face my perils alone”


From Thomas Merton’s “Thoughts In Solitude”

1956 Abbey at Gethsemani

Stanley Solow

Guitar Scholarship


Nassau Community College



Suggested Donation: $10.00

Please sign the register to donate cash or:

Make a check out to:

Nassau Community College Foundation

(NCC Foundation)

(Memo) Stanley Solow Guitar Scholarship

(All Funds Will Be Matched)

Stanley Solow (June 13. 1921 – April 22. 2013) was born in New York City where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and later Columbia University.

He served in the U.S. Army during W.W.II, from 1942 to 1945 with the 445 Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, 8th Infantry Division. It was during this time between deployments that he met and married Freda Borenstein of Spring Valley, New York.

After the war he and Freda began to raise their family in Manhattan and later moved to the borough of Queens. He earned a living teaching guitar and as a musician with the group the “Skylighters” performing in venues around the northeast. During this time he also studied jazz guitar and harmony with guitarist Barry Galbraith. In 1950 he had heard Andreas Segovia and was completely taken with the Maestro, his technique and the classical guitar repertoire. In 1958 Galbraith suggested that he study with Segovia disciple, Albert Valdes Blain in N.Y.C.

In 1966 Mr. Solow auditioned for and gained the post of Instructor of Classical Guitar at Hofstra University where he taught until 1986. It was the first degreed Classical Guitar program of its kind in the area. He taught concurrently at Nassau Community College from 1970 to 1995 from where he retired and a scholarship for guitar study was begun in his name.

After his retirement he kept his teaching studio at his home in New Hyde Park, Queens receiving new students and maintaining mentoring relationships with former students as well, many who went on to become performers, composers, teachers and dear friends throughout the years.

After Freda’s passing early in 2013 after a long illness and up until the time of his death in April of 2013, Mr. Solow still managed to see a number of devoted students and friends each week.

Stanley Solow was an admired teacher, a generous friend and mentor, dearly missed by all those who had the opportunity to sit by his side to learn.

He is survived by his children Paula Nan Solow – Watkins and Harold Tobias Solow and their families.

Biographies of the Performers

Soprano Marigene Kettler has a BA in Vocal Performance from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. She has studied and performed at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Vienna, Austria, the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria and at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Marigene has been a featured soloist at the Grace Church Music Series and St. Paul’s Festival of the Arts performing Handel’s Messiah and the Brahms’ Requiem. She has also sung with the New Jersey Pops Orchestra and the Pro Arte Chorale. As a member of the close harmony trio Satin Dolls, Marigene has sung in Atlantic City and Manhattan. She is currently the Executive Director of The Rockland Conservatory of Music in Pearl River, New York.

Since moving to N.Y. from Arizona more than 20 years ago, baritone, Russell Ashley has been a familiar face to audiences in the Tri-State area. In addition to appearing as a guest soloist with the Gregg Smith Singers, The Robert De Cormier Singers, and Amor Artis in New York, he has been a featured baritone at Madeline and Chartres Cathedrals in France and at the Madeira Bach Festival. Mr. Ashley has performed frequently with the National Grand Opera, New Jersey State Opera, The Opera Orchestra of New York and The National Chorale. After beginning his career as a music teacher in Phoenix, with Kindergarten through 6th grade students, Mr. Ashley moved to Flagstaff where he worked with high school choruses until 1984. At present he is the baritone soloist at the Reformed Church of Bronxville. He is also the conductor of the P.S. 310 School Chorus in the Bronx.

Violinist – Violinist Matthew Lehmann obtained a Masters Degree from the Mannes College of Music and a post-graduate degree at the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Glenn Dicterow.  He has given concerts with many of New York’s prestigious ensembles, such as the American Symphony, the Riverside Symphony, and the New York City Opera. In addition, Mr. Lehmann performs regularly with the bands of current Broadway musicals such as “The Book of Mormon”, “Wicked”, “Matilda”, “Cinderella”, “Motown”, and “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark”.  Matthew Lehmann is in his tenth year as a member of the Hofstra University String Quartet and is an Adjunct Professor of Violin at that institution. As an orchestral musician, Matthew began his career as Assistant Principal Second of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in 2000.  He is currently a tenured member of the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago, as well as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Harrisburg Symphony.  In addition, Mr. Lehmann has performed concerts with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. Matthew recently accompanied the Philharmonic on its 2013 European Tour.

Martha Colby – Cellist, pianist, writer, singer, arranger, and teacher, Martha Colby, “scrapes, glides and plucks her way like a flame” (Performing Songwriter magazine). Having spent her summers since 2007 with the Lake Quartet at Yellowstone Park, Martha left her freelance career in NYC to be out in the mountains with the bears, bison, mountain goats, wolves and spaciousness of the west. She is currently a musician in residence (cello and piano) in Yellowstone National Park at the historic Old Faithful Inn, winters at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and continues to perform with the Lake String Quartet at Lake Village.  She has performed in such ensembles as the band October Project (Bury My Lovely), with singer-songwriters Anna Dagmar, Sloan Wainwright, Gregory Douglass, a Latin trio Rosewood and Rhythm, in jazz bands The Llama Dollies and Lyric Fury, and was principle cellist of the Hudson Opera Theater, the Spirit of America Pops and a soloist with the S.U.N.Y. Orange County Community Orchestra.  Her debut album, Across Two Rivers, appears on the LWR Productions label, as well as an off-the-wall collaboration with Steve Raleigh, Christmas Present. She earned her BM at Berklee College of music and was a recipient of the Joe Venuti Jazz Masters Award and several Meet the Composer grants. Martha has worked with world-renowned musicians including Matt Glaser, Julie Lyonn Lieberman, Billy Hart, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Martha Colby music is what you get from a kid who wanted to be a lead singer and a bass player and wound up playing the cello. She grew up listening to classical music, progressive rock, thrash, 60’s folk rock, Dixie, Swing, and avante garde jazz. She started off as a child in Guilford, CT.

Violinist Chris Cardona has spent his career performing with many of New York’s finest musical institutions. He holds a BMA from The Julliard School where he studied with Joseph Fuchs. After spending two seasons as a member of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, he toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe performing and as a part of several National Touring companies. Chris has played in numerous Broadway shows. In 2005 Chris starred on Broadway as the fiddler in “Fiddler On The Roof” with Rosie O’Donnell. In 2006 he toured the country with the Sheryl Crow band and the following year with Hall and Oates. Chris has recorded and played for dozens of top recording artists and has been a featured performer on the Today Show, Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon among others.  More recently he has been performing in the Broadway production of “Spider Man”. Among the many ensembles he has performed with are the Grammy nominated Eos and the Concordia and Riverside Symphony.

Tony Grocki: After working for 16 years in the editorial department in New York City on films directed by Jim Jarmusch, Abel Ferrara, Paul Schrader, Sara Driver, and Lodge Kerrigan, and working with Editors Jay Rabinowitz, Kristina Boden, and Bill Pankow, Tony moved his family to the cool, clear air and laid back country lifestyle of upstate New York. He is raising his family there while working as Editor on numerous projects, both shorts and features. He is joined by his wife, Tara Molloy-Grocki, their two sons, Conor (born in 1995), and Sean (born in 1999), and their daughter Clare (born in 2007).

Larry Alexander is an engineer/producer who began his career at 914 Studios recording such superstars as Bruce Springsteen and Janis Ian (for which he won a Grammy for Best Engineered Recording). After lengthy employment as a staff engineer at Power Station Studios, Larry began to freelance and has worked extensively in the U.S. and abroad recording music for albums, film, television and advertising.

Composer & Guitarist Matthew Baier received his Bachelor Degree in music from Nyack College, in Nyack, N.Y. where he studied composition with Paul Lilijestrand and classical guitar with Stanley Solow of Nassau Community College on Long Island. He received his MFA degree in Studio Composition from the S.U.N.Y. at Purchase where he studied composition with Dary John Mizelle. From 1999 through 2006 Mr. Baier hosted his annual original chamber music recitals at Saint Paul’s Festival of The Arts in South Nyack. From 2007 to 2013 his programs have been held at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack N.Y. and the First Reformed Church of Nyack. In addition to composing Mr. Baier has performed solo classical guitar recitals at the Queens Public Library, Suffern Free Library and Nyack Library. Please visit the blog site to view program notes at: and contribute to the discussion. For other inquiries you may write directly to Also Matthew Baier on Facebook. Affiliations: Long Island Composer’s Alliance American Music Center

Special Thanks & Acknowledgements: Marigene Kettler, Jacquelyn Drechsler, Russ Ashley, Matthew Lehmann, Christopher Cardona, Martha Colby, Marcos Sueiro, Prof. Steve Leonard and Melissa & Larry Alexander who have graciously given their time and talents in support of my musical endeavors.

Grace Episcopal Church and Thayer Woodcock for facilitating the use of this wonderful sanctuary.

William Hargrove (1926 – 2010) the former organizer of the Festival of the Arts in South Nyack / St. Paul’s who enthusiastically programmed my recital each year from 1999 through 2006.

This recital is dedicated in memory of Mr. And Mrs. Stanley Solow for their inspirational lifetime commitment to each other and for passing on the pedagogy of The Maestro, Andreas Segovia. Without their many many years of patient encouragement and friendship this program would not have been possible.

My wife Emily and my daughter Stephanie: for their love, inspiration and support.

To all of you, the audience, particularly those of you attending year after year. Please sign the guest book so I may update the mailing/e-mail list.

Guitar: by William Del Pilar 1985, Brooklyn, New York.

All Music Copyright by Matthew Baier 1996, 2005, 2010, 2011,2013

(Except Pieces for Guitar by Stanley Solow 1994)

Please Join Us on November 24, 2013

A Recital of Original Compositions

By Matthew Baier

Grace Episcopal Church

130 First Avenue & Franklin Street

Nyack, N.Y.

Sunday, November 24. 2013 at 4pm


“Parnassus” Sonata for Guitar & Strings

“Three Songs on Sonnets by William Shakespeare No. 1”

“Suite for Guitar”

“Music for Guitar by Stanley Solow”

“Versions of A Girl ” – A new short film by Tony Grocki

With Performances by

Marigene Kettler, Russ Ashley, Matthew Lehmann, Chris Cardona, Martha Colby & Matthew Baier

Admission is $15.00

Directions from the south and east:

Take the N.Y. State Thruway (I 87) north to exit 11 in Nyack. After the stop sign on the ramp go to the 1st light (This is Route 9w and High Avenue). Proceed straight on High Avenue and (minding the speed bumps) make a left at the bottom of the hill on to Franklin Street. Grace Church is one block up on the right at the corner of Franklin Street and First Avenue. (130 1st Ave.)

Directions from the north and west:

Take the N.Y. State Thruway (I 87) south to exit 11 in Nyack. At the light make a left on to Route 59. Go to the light at the intersection of route 59 and route 9 w (Route 59 becomes Main St.). Proceed straight down Main Street to the second light Franklin Street and make a left. Go two blocks to First Avenue. Grace Church is on the right hand side. (130 1stAve.)


Please feel free to download and share the flyer for the concert:



Final Report to Arts Council of Rockland (ACOR) 2012


Project Evaluation

A Recital of Songs on Religious Texts

Matthew Baier

This project involved an exploration of five religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Sufi – Islam. Below is a list of each original goal as written in the grant proposal and a description of how those goals were achieved.

1.       To create a chamber music program that will suggest and emphasize to the listener the similarities in the message of the five belief systems represented in the song cycle.

  • The chamber music concert took place on November 17, 2012 at the First Reformed Church of Nyack. Approximately 55 people attended it. Information about its success was obtained not only by tracking the numbers of participants and subjective assessment of their enjoyment, but also by the use of a survey tool (attached) and an extensive Q & A Session at the close of the concert.
  • A blog, A Recital of Songs on Religious Texts (, was established in order to educate the audience ahead of time about what we hoped to accomplish. Notes on the texts used along with the composer’s thoughts about how they were chosen and why they fit within the scope of this program were also included. (See 4,b for blog details)

Goal 1 Evaluation: We were able to attract a very good audience for the concert, but also virtually through the use of the blog and social media such as Facebook. Here are a couple of quotes that illustrate the effect of the concert:

From a completed survey form:

“The concert was a beautiful integration of culture and religion … perfect in a time of polarity and extremes as the arts may help bridge differences into oneness”

From a Facebook post after the concert:

“My son, aged 8, and I had the most wonderful, deeply gratifying experience last night at your yearly concert of original works …the marriage of spiritual text and music truly reaches a ‘music of the spheres’ level with so many cultural and spiritual traditions … Lastly, and certainly not least, with the assemblage of such amazing talent, you embody so beautifully the concept of music as community. Thank you so much!”

2.       To foster a sense of unity and common purpose between the diverse cultures

  • The planning and composition of these works required a great deal of research and groundwork. As a composer, I felt an obligation to represent each faith in the most authentic ways possible. Over the past year, I have attended services and conversed with people of all five traditions represented in this concert. This outreach was important to me as a composer but I also hope that my interactions with these diverse people and my interest in their traditions was useful in some ways to them and will encourage them to be as open and inviting to future visitors as they were to me.
  • According to the survey, 70% of the concert attendees were either very interested or somewhat interested in religion. While 74% of those surveyed replied that their view on this matter had not changed as a result of the program, 94% stated they would be more likely to attend a religious service, cultural or community event in a faith or culture not their own, with only 6% of respondents unchanged or less likely to do so. The goal was not to change anyone’s religious beliefs, but rather to help build an acceptance of, and interest in, other religious and cultural traditions.
  • According to the survey, most respondents (78%) felt that the pairing of music and text most influenced their opinion of the concert. 9% felt that the statements from representatives of various faiths was the most important; 7% said overall spiritual/cultural considerations and 6% cited the information in the program notes.

Goal 2 Evaluation: Measuring feelings of unity and common purpose can be difficult to do. However, the fact that 94% of people stated that they would be more open to attending a religious service or cultural event in a faith or culture not their own, is a good indication that a project such as this one can have an effect on peoples’ openness to new experiences and cultures outside their own. Some comments from the survey that reflect this:

“There was a variety of music expressing a common human desire to engage with spirituality”

“[This program] was my first introduction to many of these texts”

“Art and music are the best things to come out of religion”

“Music is what brings people together”

“Made me aware of texts and songs not of my own [tradition]. Exposure is good and enriching”

3.       To engage ca. 15 local musicians for rehearsals and performances

  • We were fortunate to secure the participation of four singers, two percussionists, one pianist, one oboist, one flutist, one violinist, a sound engineer and the composer (who played guitar, oud, shofar and shruti box). Because some of the musicians were able to master more than one instrument, it was only necessary to secure twelve people to perform.

Goal 3 Evaluation: We found that 15 musicians was more than we actually needed. The twelve artists who performed were immensely talented and engaged and fully committed to the vision of this project.

4.       To reach ca. 150-200 audience members

  • As mentioned above, over 50 people attended the concert. However, the grant allowed us to engage with far more people than that. First of all, the interaction with the various religious scholars, teachers, leaders and congregants, allowed for interaction and an exchange of ideas as the project was in the first stages of formation. The statements from religious leaders included in the program notes offered a greater exposure to new religious traditions not only to the in-person audience but also to the many people who looked at the blog (see below) or at Matthew Baier’s Facebook site.
  • The blog, A Recital of Songs on Religious Texts (, was a means by which to engage people who would be attending the concert but also an outreach tool for those who could not attend. As is the norm with blogs, there were many more views than there were actual comments posted. However, we did have posting from a variety of locations – some were from people who were nearby but there were also postings from Texas and Florida. There were Facebook “Likes” from many places throughout the country.
  • Other statistics related to the blog and social media:

i.      The blog has had 429 views as of this writing, with 36 views on our busiest day

ii.      The blog was viewed by people in the United States, Hungary, Italy, Australia and Austria

iii.      There were 106 followers of the blog on Facebook and countless “Likes”

Goal 4 Evaluation: It is difficult to quantify exactly how large our outreach effort was. We had a local audience of more than 50 individuals, but our outreach through our blog and through Facebook resulted in an opportunity to reach out to far more people. With over 400 blog views from five different countries, it looks as if our outreach was successful.

5.       Through the music, to directly reflect Rockland County’s rich cultural diversity and engage those constituents

  • The outreach to religious institutions during the research and planning phases of this project allowed for much direct exposure to other cultures. Although the performers and audiences were somewhat more homogenous than the cultures represented, the composer tried, through research and active interaction with those from other cultures, to create a musical experience that was faithful to those traditions. In this way, the music and the composer were able to act as a conduit from those diverse traditions and cultures to our own.

Goal 5 Evaluation: The audience and performers had an opportunity to learn about various cultures through the music, the texts, and the program notes. Now that we have opened this first door, a goal for the future might be to further expand our outreach so that members of various communities are interacting and performing music together.

 Post Concert Survey

  1. How did you hear of this event?
  1. On a Scale of 1-4, how interested are you on the subject of religion?
  1. Has the content of this program altered your point of view on religious or cultural matters?
  1. Having heard this concert, are you more or less likely to attend a religious service, cultural or community event in a faith or culture other than your own?
  1. What content from the presentation influenced your opinion most?

November 19, 2012

The Upanishads or Vedanta is a collection of philosophical commentaries that conclude the Vedas (the oldest Hindu sacred texts) and were produced in the first millennium B.C.E. in India. The texts were normally sung/chanted within very specific sets of musical formulas, which unify the music to the text in order to convey their meaning and produce the desired spiritual effect.

The Upanishads direct the reader toward an inner search and a mystical union with the ultimate reality known as Brahman (the source of the visible world) through Atman (the core of the individual self) in order to escape maya (illusion), which results in the cycle of karma. The practices of meditation and yoga were established to help one focus on this reality.

My fascination with this text was the reason for selecting this musical style. It is in no way to suggest that I have done anything but to “imitate” what in reality takes a lifetime to achieve as the word Upanishad suggests by its definition in Sanskrit as: “the act of sitting down by something” to learn from.


Katha Upanishad

(Text Excerpts)

Part One, Chapter 3 Verse 1

In the secret cave of the heart, two are seated

By life’s fountain. The separate ego

Drinks of the sweet and bitter stuff,

Liking the sweet, disliking the bitter,

While the supreme Self drinks sweet and bitter

Neither liking this nor disliking that.

The ego gropes in the darkness,

While the Self lives in the light.

(Om, shanti shanti shanti)

Part Two, Chapter 2 Verse 1

There is a city with eleven gates

Of which the ruler is the unborn Self,

Whose light forever shines. They go beyond

Sorrow who meditate on the Self

And are freed from the cycle of birth and death.

For this Self is supreme!

(Om, shanti shanti shanti)

Part Two, Chapter 2 Verse 13

There are two selves, the separate ego

And the indivisible Atman. When

One rises above I and me and mine,

The Atman is revealed as one’s real Self.

(Om, shanti shanti shanti)

November 15, 2012

Songs on Buddhist Texts

Introduction: My connection to Buddhism has really been a catalyst for this program; and the practice of shoju or embracement, which extends to all religions and cultures, is central to its premise. Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhism exerts that one practices not only for themselves for the greater good of all. This begins at home and extends outward through continued efforts.  The application of this concept even in the smallest detail of our daily interaction with others can have reverberating effects. One could imagine the effect if it were applied en masse. The simplicity of this could not be more profound as its spirit may be found in the teachings of all the major religions of the world. Compassion.


The text of the Seikun or “sacred principals” derives from Japanese Buddhist teachings. It is based on a teaching by the 9th century Buddhist monk named Kukai as recorded by the 12th century monk Kabuban. I hope this particular setting in which I have used a phonetic and syllabic pattern analysis as a template for the composition combined with the musical materials I’ve selected has brought out some of this texts elusive meaning.


Like the moon is pure

One’s heart is without defilement.

Like the moon is round and perfect

One’s heart lacks nothing.

Like the moon is clear

One’s heart is the untarnished Dharma.

Tsuki no shojo naru ga gotoku

jishin mo muku nari

Tsuki no enman naru ga gotoku

jishin mo kakuru koto nashi

Tsuki no keppaku naru ga gotoku

jishin mo byakuho nari

Texts & Translation used by permission of Shinnyo – en U.S.A. New York

Week of November 5, 2012

This week’s text submission is from the Hebrew portion of the recital.

Psalm 42

For the leader; A maskil of the Korahites. 2. Like a hind crying for water, my soul cries for you O God, 3. my soul thirsts for God, the living God; O when will I come to appear before God! 4. My tears have been my food day and night; I am ever taunted with, “Where is your God”. 5. When I think of this, I pour out my soul; how I walked with the crowd, moved with them. The festive throng, to the House of God with joyous shouts of praise. 6. Why so downcast, my soul, why so disquieted within me? Have hope in God; I will yet praise Him for His saving presence. 7. O my God, my soul is downcast; therefore I think of You in this land of Jordan and Hermon, in Mount Mizar, where deep calls to deep in the roar of your cataracts all your breakers and billows have swept over me. 9. By day the Lord vouchsafe His faithful care, so that at night a song to Him may be with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 10. I say to God my rock, why have you forgotten me, why must I walk in gloom, oppressed by my enemy? 11. Crushing my bones, my foes revile me, taunting me always with, “Where is your God”? 12. Why so downcast, my soul, why so disquieted within me? Have hope in God; I will yet praise Him, my ever-present help, my God.

The opening lines of psalm 42 may be one of the most beautiful metaphors in the Old Testament.

As any living thing experiences the need of water to satisfy thirst and sustain life the psalmist intensely expresses his desire for God’s presence in his life.

As the writer grapples with his internal and external circumstances he recalls the joy of praise and the faithfulness of God. He reminds himself between each set of complaints of God’s deliverance in times passed and reassures himself again and again so that even this song of lament becomes a prayer of faith and gratitude in the present and for the future.

Matthew Baier