Film score: Upheaval

Director Jonathan Gruber recently finished a feature-length documentary that I had a great time scoring. The film, Upheaval, tells the story of the late Israeli politician Menachem Begin — it’s a tough walk through the minefields of Israeli politics and history. Jonathan is such a skilled filmmaker that he makes this scorching subject look easy to tackle. The music, of course, all had to be made using the instruments I can play and record at home, along with synth elements. Once a score is recorded, I usually sit down with the director to review the film scene by scene, but of course we couldn’t do that in person right now. Instead, we shared my screen over Zoom, and I am happy to report that is possibly the very best use of the Zoom platform.

Choral Commission: The Last Seven Words

Earlier this year, I was commissioned by Michael McCarthy, the Canon of Music at the Washington National Cathedral, to write a choral piece based on the Seven Last Words from the Cross. As you may already know, these are actually phrases, not words: they’re the last seven things Jesus Christ said during the Crucifixion, including “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Whatever your relationship to religion — my own is very distant — these are very beautiful and evocative words to work with, and it was an honor to set them to music. The piece, called The Last Seven Words, is scored for children’s choir, harp, string quartet and chamber organ. The idea was for the Cathedral to take its children’s choir and this piece on tour to Spain and Portugal in March. That tour was cancelled, for obvious reasons, but I hope the piece can reach its audience one day soon.