“ Interestingly, the work that tried to please the least was the most compelling. Hayes Biggs’ piece Ave Formosissima harkens back to the dance-mad, melismatic and slightly raucous music of the Middle Ages. But the score, with its zig-zagging lines and pungent dissonances, is genuinely contemporary.”—New York Times
“ A Consuming Fire, a short, zesty trio by Hayes Biggs, led off the evening. The piece is framed by some engagingly angular rhythmic writing, with a lyrical nougat at the center.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“ [The] most convincing and coherent performance [was] Hayes Biggs’ homage to his composer/pianist colleague Eric Moe, E.M. am Flügel, a short piece with romantic gestures and echoes of Berg and Stravinsky.”—Aufbau
“ The Mass for All Saints would be an exciting challenge for those choirs skilled in precise intonation and rhythmic agility. Biggs writes with knowledge of and respect for the expressive capabilities of the human voice.”—Choral Journal
“ Hayes Biggs’s wedding motet Tota Pulchra Es, here being sung for the first time, impressed by its quiet solemnity and neat working of its expressive opening motif: not empty fanfares but a reminder of the seriousness and privacy of love.”—New York Times
“ Mass for All Saints by composer Hayes Biggs releases shadows transformed into tendrils of light by the arabesque of the vocal line. Contrapuntal procedures are used to their utmost expressive effect. [It] is a work of a melodist of talent in the manner of Puccini, or better yet, Respighi.”—La Liberté
“ The Biggs song, Northeast Reservation Lines, is a real party piece... the sneakiness of the changes, the liveliness of the music and the verve of the performance worked handily... a potential recital hit in the vein of Bernstein’s I Hate Music cycle.”—The Village Voice
“ All the works tried a return to tonality typical of the decade; the most successful made the return oblique and ambiguous. Hayes Biggs’ O Sacrum Convivium took off from the motet of Tallis, yet it handsomely reconfigured early modes in a modernistic scheme of free tonality.”—New York Times
“ Hayes Biggs’ To Becalme His Fever... is a vivid evocation of anxiety, fits and repose. The language embraces pointillistic colors, romantic lines and prickly episodes when the demons hover. Biggs claims a forceful and subtle dramatic hand, along with a keen command of instrumental resources.”—The Plain Dealer
This little motet was written in 1975 (I think! That was quite awhile ago, now), and is a very simple and straightforward setting of the text in a basically tonal-modal idiom, one which could certainly be used liturgically. Though very different from my present style, I thought it might provide a bit of good material for treble choirs, which increasingly appear to be in the market for new pieces, and that it might be especially suitable for younger ensembles. Besides which, I’m still rather fond of it after all these years. My revisions do not include any substantive changes, which are almost always a bad idea when it comes to an early work, as there is always the danger of revising the impulse behind the original piece out of existence. Mainly I have made the rhythm a bit less foursquare than it initially was, and hope that I have made some of the voice leading more interesting and elegant. It is my wish that choirs will find it pleasing and rewarding to sing.
Leading the list, alphabetically as well as musically, is an early piece by Hayes Biggs, the brilliant young composer… This haunting work, from his 18th year, cries out for a Kyrie and Sanctus to complete it, but it is so far removed from his present style that we shall probably have to be grateful for it alone. With great economy and moving simplicity, he sets up a musical motif that lives long in the heart after the work is done. I am told this figured in the Christmas Eve music at Corpus Christi Church, NYC, and all of us with three clear treble parts would do well to buy it and program it, too!