top of page

Detroit Renaissance

© 2023, MaLoMaLo Press

for Piano Trio and Reciter(s) or Tape

I. Ready to Serve - violin tacet

II. Golly, You Must Have Lived Here

III. Like a Good Parent - cello and piano tacet

IV. Custom Apple Pressing - violin and cello tacet

V. We Don't Know if We'll Be Successful

(but it sounds like fun) - piano tacet

VI. 'Old Ping' - cello tacet

VII. A Fun Population

VIII. The Best Place in the World

Total Duration: 15:30

Program Notes:

I wrote Detroit Renaissance as the second piece in my series on my experiences of home (the first being Sepik Suite for soprano saxophone). I have sometimes struggled to think of Detroit as one of my homes, despite living in this area for significant portions of my life. Beauty is an essential aspect of home - an aspect of Detroit not always immediately apparent among the putrefying older neighbourhoods, the mind-numbing sameness of new constructions, the monstrous density of concrete and strip malls, the suffocating web of power lines and cell towers, and the endless buffet of propaganda displayed along the assembly-line highways in order to brainwash citizens into consumers. Nevertheless, I am coming to realise that when one finds oneself living in an unsightly home, the appropriate response is not to deny that it is home, but to enhance the beauty of any worthy parts by improving the rest in a congruous manner. I see people around me doing this very thing in the Detroit area, and so this piece praises the efforts of others while simultaneously contributing to that movement.


I owe thanks to the many people who contributed to this project by sharing their stories with me and with all who hear this piece. Josh Fort composed the text for the first movement in monologue form after we had a conversation in which I asked him whether he ever planned to return to Detroit as his home of origin, and his reasons for his response. His aspirations aligned so perfectly with my own reasons for composing this piece that it serves as an introduction for everything else. The text for the fourth movement came from the “History” page of Yates Cider Mill’s website, and the text for the sixth movement came from the Mayor Pingree Bourbon Whiskey label; both companies graciously gave permission for use of their texts. I compiled the text for the remaining movements from excerpts of recorded conversations I had with friends who live in the Detroit area. The third movement contains references to Strauss' Tod und Verklärung and Barber's Overture to the School for Scandal, which appeared on the first album the Detroit Symphony Orchestra recorded after Ann joined and the first album the DSO recorded with Neeme Järvi, respectively. The resulting collage highlights many of its positive aspects of life and culture, and the power of people investing in their home over generations. The music I wrote to accompany each of these texts helps set the mood for the movement without being directly programmatic or symbolic. Taken as a whole, the narrators and musicians present a spoken oratorio telling the story of my home, Detroit.

bottom of page