Text from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (adapted by Jeremy Gill).
Bells of Change resulted from my first commission by a professional ensemble: the Chamber Singers of Harrisburg, which, in 1996, was celebrating the tenth anniversary of its founding. Thomas Gallup, the music director of the group, had been my high school choir director. We had performed some of the American composer and oboist Cecil Effingerʼs lovely settings for oboe and SATB chorus while I was his student, and his only request for this commission was that I write for the similar scoring of English horn with SATB chorus—the choice of text was entirely up to me. I had recently read Charles Dickensʼs David Copperfield and the passage I ultimately chose to set had continued to ring in my memory; I felt its evocations of the outdoors via rooks and tolling bells would suit the English horn beautifully. As it turned out, our English hornist for the premiere unexpectedly fell ill, so I quickly re-wrote the obbligato part for a violist (Julius Wirth) already engaged for the concert—an easy switch, and a fortuitous one, as I now much prefer the viola in this role.