Text by E. E. Cummings. Used with permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
In Paradisum: if there are any heavens was written toward the end of a seminal year in my musical development: I was sixteen years old, freshly back from a summer at the Interlochen Arts Camp, preparing for my college auditions. That year, 1991, saw what I consider my first genuine compositions, beginning with a short song in May that was my compositional “breakthrough.” It was followed in quick succession by my first string quartet (which later garnered my first BMI Student Composer Award), first orchestral work, solo pieces for English horn and harp, this choral work, two more songs for soprano and string quartet, and a viola sonata. I have never had a more prolific year!
When Tim Ribchester asked me to contribute a work for the inaugural concerts of his Eakins Vocal Consort, I immediately thought to revise this work; I have long enjoyed the piece but felt that it was unnecessarily complex. As it turns out, my revisions were minor—I changed the meter (which required only a few alterations to the surface rhythm), cleaned up the counterpoint and clarified some harmonies—and the piece is, in effect and large part, the same one I wrote sixteen years earlier.