I compose and perform music, mostly a cappella, mixing folk and Renaissance styles. My compositions range from duets to six part harmony, and treat mythology, science fiction and fantasy themes. I primarily perform with the a cappella group Sassafrass.
My biggest musical project is a Norse-mythology-themed song cycle, Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok. The songs narrate the history of the cosmos according to Viking legend, from the creation of the world to Ragnarok and the new world beyond, focusing on the death of Baldur, and the strife between Odin and his blood-brother Loki. The cycle also treats the historical events of late Medieval Iceland which produced the manuscripts in which the myths survive, and examine the period’s most important author Snorri Sturlson. The songs are available streaming free online, as digital downloads, and as a physical CD and DVD. There are also DRM-free ebooks of the full score and the libretto with 90 pages of historical notes.
Here is one of my more complex arrangements, the title song “Sundown” which tells the story of Baldur’s murder, based on text from the Poetic Edda:
One of the central pieces of the song cycle is “My Brother, My Enemy,” a duet for Odin and Loki in which they describe their meeting, friendship, and how everything eventually fell apart:
More recently I have been concentrating on two new collections. “Stories & Stone” is a companion album, with alternate arrangements of the Viking music from the Sundown project. “Friend in the Dark” is the first collection by myself and my singing partner Lauren Schiller performing as the duo “Sassafrass: Trickster and King.”
You can hear more of my music streaming online for free (and purchase downloads) through Bandcamp.
The Sundown Project is both an album and a stage play, performed in period costumes. We used Kickstarter to raise funds to produce the DVD of the stage performance (available here), which debuted at Balticon in May 2013. The play focuses on the last days of Icelandic scholar-statesman Snorri Sturlson (1179-1241), the author of the Prose Edda, which is one of our two most valuable surviving sources of Norse myth. The play imagines Snorri’s final efforts to pass on the stories of gods and giants that he spent his life collecting and preserving.
For more details about the play, and the medieval sources behind it, see the Sassafrass website.
I primarily perform at science fiction conventions, either with groups of Sassafrass members, or with my long-time friend Lauren Schiller, performing as the duo “Sassafrass: Trickster and King.”
The science fiction fan community has always been a great source of support, both for Sassafrass and for myself, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I would have stopped composing years ago if not for the enthusiasm of fan friends and convention audience. I believe that a great deal of good arises from the inspirational, aspirational and future-oriented messages that circulate in the world of science fiction and fantasy literature and fandom. I have tried to express those ideals and their value in pieces like this one, “Somebody Will.”
“Somebody Will” was awarded the 2020 Pegasus Award for Excellence in Filking, earning the title of Best Classic Filk Song.
A music video created by Daniel Reynolds inspired by Somebody Will. Daniel also created a documentary about the creation of the music video.
You can find more recordings, sheet music, lyrics sheets and goodies at the Sassafrass website.