Gregory Hall

Composer Gregory Hall (b. 1959) was passionate about harmony even before he began composing in the late 1970’s. As a result, much of his work has been concentrated on developing a contrapuntally-based musical language emphasizing neither harmony nor melody, but the successful blending of both.

Hall holds composition degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and
the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Ned Rorem. In 1991, the Maine Music Teachers National Association commissioned his piece the Hardanger Trio. His orchestra work Arkadia, commissioned by the Arcady Chamber Orchestra, Bar Harbor, ME, premiered in 2001 and received several performances at various venues in Maine. Hall has composed nearly forty works for varied ensembles and participated in concerts by the ACA, SCI, Maine Arts, SEAMUS, Ought-One Festival and the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, Brunswick, ME, which selected him as the Maine Composer of the Year in 1997. His works have been reviewed in the New Music Connoisseur, among others

Recordings include Water: 2 Poems of W.S. Merwin for Soprano and Orchestra released in Vol. 15 of ERMMedia's Masterworks of the New Era CD series in March of 2008 and Quartet for Saxophones which will be featured in an upcoming Capstone Records recording of new quartets for saxophone, also featuring the premiere release of Lukas Foss' Saxophone Quartet. His MAX computer music algorithm 21st Century Baroque for computer and sampling device(s) appeared on the internationally distributed MAX list CD-ROM. Hall’s works are published by the ACA.

From 1993 to 2005 he served as Vice-President of the Maine Composer's Forum (MCF), and then from 2005-present as President. In 2000 he was elected to the membership of the American Composers Alliance (ACA). He is a reviewer for the Contemporary Record
Society (CRS) Society News Magazine and a Fellow of the Ucross Foundation. Currently, he is listed in Marquis' Who'sWho in America.

“April” (2005) for SATB chorus and piano

April is based on a text by W.S. Merwin, from his collection “The Lice”. The composition of this work was a case in point for my relationship to the poetry of Merwin, for--having set much Merwin in the past-- I was deliberately going through the works of a number of other poets. However, this poem jumped out at me in a way that numerous other Merwin poems have and I had no other choice, as the music started as well. Specifically, the music was almost immediately inspired by the line “April April”, and I took the liberty of using it as a recurring refrain. Other musical devices inspired by the poem include lengthy solo melismas, and staggered entrances on the words “Sinks” and “You”.


When we have gone the stone will stop singing

April April
Sinks through the sand of names

Days to come
With no stars hidden in them

You that can wait being there

You that lose nothing
Know nothing

"April" from "The Lice"
Copyright © 1967 by W.S. Merwin. All rights reserved


“The Waking” (2007) high voice and piano

The Waking
is from a text by Theodore Roethke. Since the subject matter is somewhat farther-ranging than many other poems I have set, I have deliberately expanded my harmonic palette, and the work points not only to (what I hope are) some future developments in that vein, but also looks back to the language of some of my earlier music, and thus becomes a summation so far of what I have done in the art-song idiom.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

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