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Writing art song has allowed me to explore rich avenues I wouldn’t have discovered without the beautiful texts that have inspired me. My songs have been heard at concerts produced by Friends & Enemies of New Music, New Music New York, Joy in Singing, Lyricfest, Songfest, Songfusion and at Carnegie Hall. I was the recipient of the 2010 NATS Composition Award for my song cycle “Missed Connections” (watch the award ceremony and world premiere here). I love working with living poets and am always open to collaborations.
Poem by: Barbara Worton
Paul Sperry, Tenor; Laura Ward, Piano
Selected Songs & Cycles
Dear God (Soprano/Mezzo) – Written for soprano Tami Petty, mezzo Sarah Lambert, and pianist Howard Watkins for a joint recital given at Marble Collegiate Church, New York. These are settings of children’s often comical and touching prayers to God. (Solo and Duet versions available). Listen to the full cycle here.
I Will Meet You Yet Again (Soprano) – Written for soprano Marie Mascari and Inga Kapoulier to premiere at a World AIDS Day service I produced at Marble Collegiate Church.
Italianate (Baritone) – A setting of several poems by my friend Linda Dini Jenkins, all of which were written while visiting Italy with her husband. The cycle was premiered Michael Kelly and Sheila Kibbe at Carnegie Hall in November, 2014. Listen to the full cycle here.
Missed Connections (Mezzo) – Missed Connections is a setting of anonymous craigslist.com posts, all pertaining to the search for love and relationships. I received the 2010 NATS Composition Award for the cycle. Listen to the full cycle here.
Missed Connections (Baritone) – My idol Kurt Ollmann asked me to write a version of this cycle for him, which he premiered at Carnegie Hall. Listen to the full cycle here.
My Best Beloved (Tenor) – Based on Francis Quarles’ lavish text, this piece was written for tenor David Root and premiered at the Liederkranz Club in 2003.
Of all the Words in the World (Soprano) – Written for soprano Marie Mascari and Shiela Kibbe to premiere at Carnegie Hall. This has been perhaps my most collaborative song cycle to date, as Marie and poet Danita Geltner both had a hand in selecting the texts and the order of the songs. Listen to the full cycle here.
Passages (Mezzo) – A setting of Christina Rossetti poems that bring the cycle’s character from life through death. Premiered by Elizabeth Mondragon at Carnegie Hall. Listen to the full cycle here.
Patterns (Dramatic Mezzo) – A slightly abridged setting of Amy Lowell’s stunning imagist poem for dramatic mezzo soprano. Elizabeth Mondragon has most frequently bought this piece to life with her masterful portrayal.
Quilt (Bass-Baritone) – Written for Neil Netherly and Scott Rednour to premiere at a World AIDS Day service I produced at Marble Collegiate Church.
Reflections on a Lover Past (Tenor) – Texts by beat poet Gary Snyder. The cycle was premiered by David Root and Shiela Kibbe at Carnegie Hall. Listen to the full cycle here.
Set Me As a Seal (Soprano) – Written for soprano Christina Rohm in dedication to Elizabeth Mondragon and James Groff, Jr. on the occasion of their wedding.
Six Dennis Rhodes Poems (Baritone) – While in Provincetown several years ago, I came across a book of poetry by Dennis Rhodes. The bookstore proprietor told me he was a local artist and gave me his phone number. Thus began a long friendship and collaboration, which included this cycle for baritone Christopher Herbert. Listen to the full cycle here.
Songs from an Old Mill Town (Tenor) – Through Dennis Rhodes, I was introduced to the work of Jeff Walt, who writes beautifully dense, emotionally rich poems. I wrote this cycle for tenor Carl Johengen, who was my voice teacher at Syracuse University. It was premiered by Carl and Shiela Kibbe at Carnegie Hall. Listen to the full cycle here.
Stories on Stone (Baritone) – I wrote this cycle for my final graduate voice recital at Boston University in 1999. These very brief, fun settings of epitaphs are a delightful closer to a recital. Listen to the full cycle here.
Upon Love (Mezzo) – Written for mezzo Elizabeth Mondragon, this cycle features settings of poems by Robert Herrick. A lush romantic cycle perfect for lyric mezzo. Listen to the full cycle here.
For the last 17 years, I’ve had the pleasure of writing with my collaborator, Tom Gualtieri. We met at the BMI Lehman Engle Musical Theatre Workshop in 2003 and immediately took a liking to each other’s work. Together, we have written Falling to Earth, many stand-alone songs, and produced a video series entitled “Draw the Circle Wide.” We’re currently writing a musical adaptation of Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove with book writer Michael Zam.
You Don’t Know Love (Falling to Earth)
Lyrics: Tom Gualtieri
Selected Songs by Gualtieri & Sisco
Aunt Penniman’s Rule (The Heiress) – The jovial but misguided Aunt Penniman gives the young and shy Catherine advice on how to make conversation.
Compared to You Blues – A jazzy comedic song about people who make their lives look glamorous on social media.
Everything I Need (The Heiress) – Morris Townsend woos the vulnerable Catherine, though she has concerns about his true intentions.
I’ll Never Tell – This song was to appear in a musical we were working on with Golden Girl Rue McClanahan based on her memoir, My First Five Husbands. What better way to honor Rue’s memory and wonderful sense of humor than to premiere the song with Ms. Vodka Stinger at the helm!
Moments of You – A stand-alone song about trying to move beyond the many memories of a relationship.
Northern Lights – A stand-alone song about expressing gratitude for a relationship that ended years ago.
Something Happened (Falling to Earth) – Venus (in disguise as a serving girl) draws out of a flirting Paphos the dream he had about her.
We’ll Be Fine (I’m Afraid, You’re Afraid) – Bart proposes to Jane, who perfectly understands his many (illogical) fears.
When Her Mother Danced (The Heiress) – Dr. Sloper bittersweetly recalls how his deceased wife brightened his days.
For more information about our collaboration and to purchase our songs, click here.
I have sung in choirs most my life and spent over 15 years singing with The Marble Choir, one of New York City’s finest choral ensembles. I’m blessed to have had some wonderful commissions for choirs, including: Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, Manhattan Girls Chorus, The Marble Choir, and Minnesota State University Moorhead Concert Choir.
Awake, My Heart
Adapted from Psalm 57
The Marble Choir
Selected Choral Works
A Time – A setting of the famous Ecclesiastes text, written for The Marble Choir.
Anything is Possible – Written for The Marble Gospel Choir.
The Friendly Beasts – Written for the Marble Children’s Choir, based on the traditional hymn, scored for chamber instruments.
I Am in Need of Music – Commissioned for Cayuga Vocal Ensemble’s 40th Anniversary season.
To Music – A setting of Robert Herrick’s poem, commissioned by Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Concert Choir
Growing up in the church, my early compositions usually focused around biblical themes or settings of scripture. I’m happy to share some of the songs I’ve written than have been born out of my lived faith.
Give Me a Song
Kenneth V. Dake, Piano
Selected Songs of Faith
Arise, My Love – A setting of the famous passage from Song of Songs, set as a wedding present for a couple.
God Has a Picture – Written for my friends Daphne and Dennis’s wedding, beautifully premiered by Cassandra Kellam.
Let There Be Music – A setting of my favorite anonymous text, this has become my closing song for any concert I sing.
Sound of Grace – Written out of personal struggle with a new-found understanding of God’s grace.
Worth the Wait – Commissioned by Marble Collegiate Church for their 2014 Advent Concert. Premiered by Kristin Gornstein and Kenneth V. Dake.