“ 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
Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues,
I hope all of you have been enjoying the happiest edition of whatever your preferred holiday is!
As we exit this annus horribilis (and the last four anni horribiles), may we make our way towards as long a string of anni mirabiles (or even anni seminormales) as possible.
Even with its difficulties, there remains much for which I can be grateful this year, including friends and colleagues, continued health, and secure employment. Most importantly, I would not want to be going through this without my wife Susan, and I am so fortunate that we can weather this together.
For quite a few years, beginning in 1988, I composed a short piece of music (often a choral motet), as a yearly seasonal greeting. I kind of fell out of the habit over the last several years, but am thinking I may do something like that again before the twelve days are concluded. In the meantime, I’d like to share with you something — albeit something decidedly non-Christmassy — that provided a real bright spot for me this year.
Back in mid-November, the amazing soprano Amber Evans, a brilliant and versatile musician whom I met several years ago when she was a student in the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music, sent me her realization of who are you?, a piece I composed in 2017 for C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, set to a poem by Zsuzsanna Ardó. (If you click on the link to the poem, you should see the first of its two pages and be able to access the second one at the bottom of the screen.) Amber, assisted by her friend, engineer, and editor Brian Daurelle, has created a version of the piece in which she sings all of the parts. Some of you already have received this from me or seen it posted on Facebook, so my apologies for the repeat, but it is a stunning performance, a genuine tour de force.
Wishing all of you all good things in what we all hope will be a Happy New Year,