SSAA (2019) 3’20”
Kali Loa Ko e Taki Maama is a group of poems by ʻAmelia Mataelle Pasi gifted to me in 2015. This collection of sixteen poems describe her love for her children and the unique challenges she faces as a mother who raised her children away from their homeland, and the hopes that they return to fully embrace their Tongan identity. The ninth poem describes a scene at dusk, under the grandness of the stars and the universe, sitting on a fala ki tuʻa with her family, and dreaming of home. Her home cries out from the vastness of the universe and names of places in Tonga in the evening sky.
This work was commissioned by Dr. Jace Saplan for the Nā Wai Chamber Singers.
ʻAho, poʻuli toʻo e fala ki tuʻa Tangutu mo fakataha/Day, night - we take our mat outside and sit together
Famili, kui fefine mo tangata/ Family, men and women
Siofi e langi, fetuʻu, mahina, kaniava/Looking up to the heavens, moon, universe together
ʻIkai lea kau fakaʻanaua/Not a word but quietly yearning in absolute wonder
Ki ha maama fakaʻofoʻofa, fakagalo ngataʻa/Of such a beautiful and everlasting light
Hulungaia siʻeku moʻui peau manatua/Illuminating my life, calling me to remember
Halatoamui, ʻAnafotu, Mata ki ʻAta mo e Vai ko Tufuenga (places of my homeland that continue to light my way)
-ʻAmelia Mataelle Pasi
When Love is the Way
SATB and Organ (2018)
This piece was commissioned by Todd Beckham and The Cathedral Choir of St. Andrew for the visit of the Very Reverend Michael Curry. It is performed by The Cathedral Choir and Hawaiian Choir of St. Andrew, and Todd Beckham, organ. The words are from the Presiding Bishop's sermon to the attendees of the Royal Wedding where he said the following:
Imagine neighborhoods and communities when love is the way
Imagine governments and nations, too when love is the way
Imagine business and commerce when love is the way
Imagine this tired old world when love is the way
The earth will be a sanctuary we will lay down our swords and shields
To study war no more when love is the way
Unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive when love is the way
then no child will go hungry when love is the way
We will let Justice roll like a mighty stream and righteousness like a flowing brooke
Poverty will become history when love is the way
there’s plenty good room when love is the way
There's plenty good room for all of God’s children when love is the way
The work then closes with the organ playing "There is a Balm in Gilead," a hymn referenced during the same sermon. There are many other musical references throughout the work, all leading back to different forms of love and how they impact our lives.
As part of my ongoing work with the Cathedral of St. Andrew, I have written several psalm settings appropriate for Christian services. At the moment they are free to use, with attribution. Please email for inquiries.
Preces and Responses
SATB or ATB (2016) 4'40"
Preces and Responses are petitions sung by an officiant and choir during Evensong services in the Anglican Church. These works have a 400 year tradition that has evolved into some of the most beautiful works of liturgical music. This setting was commissioned by Cannon of Music John Renke, for the Cathedral Choir of St. Andrew in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.
O Lord, open thou our lips:
And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
O God, make speed to save us:
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised.
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us.
And grant us thy salvation.
O Lord, save the Queen.
And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.
Endue thy Ministers with righteousness.
And make thy chosen people joyful.
O Lord, save thy people.
And bless thine inheritance.
Give peace in our time, O Lord.
Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.
O God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.
Full Fathom Five
SATB + SA (2016) 3'00"
Full Fathom Five is an adaptation of Ariel's song from Shakespeare's Tempest and was written for the UH Choirs, directed by Dr. Miguel Felipe. The piece is meant to evoke the hurricane sirens that sound in Mānoa valley every first Thursday of the month at 11:45 in the morning. If you're lucky and live between valleys, you may hear two sets of sirens from different locations going off - harmonically diatonic with themselves but dissonant to each other. If you're even luckier, and live next to a larger church, you will be greeted by the 11:45 chime at the same time as the sirens. Each siren on the island is different, and the way they act against each other and with the bells of churches across the island inspired this piece.
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.
Kali Loa Ko e Taki Maamá
Taki atu au ki he maamá
SaTB (2016) 2'40"
The words of this work were gifted to me by poet ʻAmelia Mataele Pasi, Professor of Tongan Language at the University of Hawaiʻi - Mānoa. In writing this work we wanted to center the poetry around our relationship with our mothers and with our daughters, as well as the modern Tongan family's relationship with Tonga. The kakala is a strong metaphor or heliaki, that represents our mothers, our homeland, and the children. Our message to the youngest generation, our kakala, is to follow the light to your homeland, rediscover your traditions and cultural knowledge, and be a champion of your culture and identity.
Taki atu au ki he maamá/Lead me to the light
Kavei koula - ngaahi ʻulungaangá/Golden waistband-cultural knowlege
Anga fakafonua takiekiná/Our Tongan ways lead
Moʻui ni ki ha tuʻunga fakalatá/to a better life
Anga faka-Tonga, ko e kakalá/Tongan ways, our kakala
He ʻaho kotoa ki tanekinangá/Every day until the end
*Kavei koula - golden waistband is a strong heliaki (or in ʻolelo Hawaiʻi: kaona). The metaphor of sisi noʻo loto are the kakala (flowers) woven with fau (hau bark) and si (ti leaf). They are special and worn to performances and important events. The kavei koula is also symbolic of Queen Salote's articulation of the four values cherished among Tongans: fakaʻapaʻapa (respect), anga fakatokilalo (humility), tauhi vā (nurutring relationships with ʻofa and reciprocity), and mamahiʻi meaʻa (loyalty).
-ʻAmelia Mataele Pasi
SATB (2015) 2'20"
My first experience with the Hawaiʻi National Anthem was at a basketball game of the UHM Rainbow Warriors vs the BYU Seasiders. After the Star Spangled Banner was sung, many in the crowd succumbed to the tradition of cheering loudly for the start of the game, but many locals either remained standing, or in some cases, only just stood up for the stoic, slow, and reverent Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī.
Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī is the current national anthem of Hawaiʻi, written by the royal bandmaster Captain Henri Berger and words by King Kalākaua in 1874. The words of the anthem, while they also challenge the listener to be patriotic and honor the kings and queens, charge them also to educate and look after the children of Hawaiʻi. This particular arrangement is designed to be used together with the Mervyn Warren, Mark Kibble, and Cedric Dent (Take 6) arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner. A transcription of the Take 6 arrangement will be included with this score.
Hawaiʻi ponoʻī/Hawaiʻi's own true son,
Nānā i kou mōʻī/Be loyal to your king,
Kalani aliʻi/Your country's liege and lord
Ke aliʻi/The chief.
Hawaiʻi ponoʻī/Hawaiʻi's own true sons,
Nānā i nā aliʻi/Look to your chiefs,
Nā pua muli kou/The children after you,
Nā pōkiʻi/The young.
Hawaiʻi ponoʻī/Hawaiʻi's own true sons,
E ka lāhui ē/People of loyal heart,
ʻO kāu hana nui/The only duty lies
E ui ē/Listen and abide.
Makua lani ē/Father above us all,
Kamehameha ē/Kamehameha e,
Na kaua e pale/Who guarded in the war,
Me ka ihe/With his spear.
Dreams of Turbulent Rain
SATB (2014) 5'30"
$10 for a PDF and $1 for rights to print each additional score.
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In my first collaboration with Jide Nezaj, Violent Waters, I was commissioned for a charity concert titled Kiss the Stars Goodnight: A Concert for Human Trafficking Awareness. The work was heavy in content, and the music reflected that with thick textures and disjunct homophony. In our second collaboration, we consider the emotional state of mixed race peoples in cultures unaccepting of them. I borrow the same timbres and sound worlds from our first work together to create a new experience for the listener.
Treading through dry land, I dream of turbulent rain
to wash out confusion and pain.
Drench my feet into the Earth to feel, to belong.
Like a rock on the seabed never reaching the shore
like a fish tossed above the heavens
displaced; like a frozen stream, defeated.
Like a mango covered in snow, how will it’s beauty be told?
Like an olive tree planted in sand, how will it grow?
I open my eyes and all I see, mixed races all staring at me
yet I dream of distant sounds
SATB (2013) 3'30"
It would seem that the most courageous and cowardly thing is suicide. The power to end your life can be a semblance of control in a world where there is no love left for you to live. In the poem Violent Waters, Meg Nezaj captures the incomparable loss of emotional purpose; a woman, striped of her world, trapped in every sense of the word and under the blessing of a starlit sky forces her own freedom.
In this setting, with close harmonies and static melodic structures, I hope to create a harmonic palette that best reflects the intentions of the poem. The hope of escape through death is presented with growth and development melodically with each part as well as harmonically in the whole. As the prospect of suicide becomes real, a sense of hope pervades the text of the final stanza, and invites the audience to embrace the speaker's experience.
My life so dim, I no longer sing.
Serving a family, not my own
In this strange foreign land.
Recruited as a maid, treated as a slave
Brutal beatings outnumber my pay,
I'm voiceless without a name!
My life in the open sea,
Dark sharks encircle me.
I think of my hungry children
So I keep my head up; carry on.
Waves high enough to wipe me away
Yet I'm still here, day after day!
Desperate and unprotected
Exhausted in violent waters,
I thank the sun who dried my tears
And kiss the stars goodnight,
There is no other way out
I take my last breath here!
-Meg Jide Nezaj
...TAKE REFUGE IN AMIDA...
SATB AND VIBRAPHONE (2013) 7'10"
$15 for a PDF of score and parts and $1 for rights to print each additional score.
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…take refuge in Amida… is a text that is taken from Jodo wasan 39 by Gotoku Shinran. In Buddhism, a series of chants are sung in a service all in a row, varying in styles and in meaning. This Jodo wasan verse is special because it is one of the very few that mention music in such beautiful and vivid poetry. The text is presented in the score as a transliteration, the translation followed by a repeat of the transliteration.
From Jodowasan #39 – by Shinran Shonin (親鸞聖人) (1173-1263)
宝林 宝樹 懲妙音/Delicate sounds of the jeweled trees in the jeweled forest
自然 諸和の伎楽にて/Pronounce natural music, serene and consonant
哀婉雅亮すぐれたり/Excellent are the pathos, grace, elegance and resonance
渚淨楽帰命せよ/Take refuge in Pure Music
The delicate, wondrous sounds of the jeweled trees
are naturally pure and harmonious music.
Unexcelled in subtlety and elegance.
So take refuge in Amida, the music of purity
SATB (2011) 3'30"
This piece’s text is taken from two poems: the first stanza of a poem by Sōtō Zen Buddhist monk Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚) (1758–1831) and the poem it was based on by Buddhist priest and poet Sami Mansei (沙弥満誓) (c. 680–740). The texts explore Buddhist philosophies through metaphor, and encourage contemplation on the analogies.
This piece is dedicated to the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Yamabiko was premiered by Los Robles Master Chorale in Thousand Oaks, CA on the one year anniversary of the tsunami, March 11, 2012.
Excerpt from Untitled (based on a poem by Sami Mansei)
by Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚) (1758–1831)
Original Script (Poetic Translation)
世の中は (Our life in this world)
何にたとへん (to what shall I compare it?)
山彦の (It is like an echo)
こたふる聲の (resounding through the mountains)
空しきがごと (and off into an empty sky.)
from Man'yōshū (万葉集 “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”)
by Sami Mansei (沙弥満誓) (c. 680–740)
Man'yōgana (Poetic Translation)
世間乎 (Living in this world)
何物尓将譬 (to what shall I compare it?)
旦開 (It is like a boat)
榜去師船之 (rowing out at break of day)
跡無如 (leaving no trace behind.)
LOVE IS ENOUGH
SATB (2009) 2'30"
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Love is Enough by William Morris
Love is enough: though the world be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the skies be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter:
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.