On Thursday 18 April, the Voices of Ascension under the direction of Dennis Keene will be premiering a new commission for chorus and organ called Building the Bird Mound. Click the photo for tickets and more information:
Building the Bird Mound was inspired by a visit I made to Poverty Point, a pre-historic mound complex in Northeast Louisiana, while traveling down the length of the Mississippi River by kayak and bicycle in the fall of 2009. Poverty Point, which was built sometime between 3500 and 1500 B.C. is structured as a series of long concentric half-circles that radiate from a center mound which is in the shape of a winged bird. When I stood in the center of the mound that November afternoon, I had a glimpse of something very powerful, a sense of being sheltered — held — in the body of this giant effigy bird, and close to the ghosts of all the people who had scrabbled in the dirt to pile up and carry soil, basket by basket, to build this sacred place. I knew then that I wanted to write a piece of music about this place and the people who built it, and Building the Bird Mound is the result of that afternoon’s inspiration.