Composer's Note

When I first started work on this unique collaboration, I received a large and intimidating stack of poetry and prose – a loose bundle of work by some of North Carolina’s finest writers. As I slowly made my way through the various stories and stanzas, I began to understand something I had already intuited – that these writers all know one another, and one way or another, the people that inhabit their writings all seem to know one another, too. Their voices, their characters, their almost-forgotten-but-now-remembered friends and family – they all seemed to live in proximity to one another, in varying degrees of familiarity. With this thought in mind, Kith and Kin emerged as a series of loosely related dramatic portraits – small and faded snapshots, larger-scale paintings meant for big public spaces, and even a comical caricature or two.

At the same time almost from the beginning of my process, a series of images and objects, some of them incorporated into the performances, exerted a very different, more atmospheric influence on the music you’ll hear. Haunting photographs of places once lived and loved; unique folk-art creations that evoked places both real and yet somehow wholly imaginary; striking images from the prose I was reading – these, too, provided a repertoire of landscapes and settings for this musical anthology.


Meanwhile, also from the work’s inception, a group of complementary musical voices has informed these seven portraits – instrumentalists and vocalists whose accents and artistry have shaped the piece’s musical fabric at every stage. Indeed, one voice in particular has been the guiding spirit of this piece – a many-hued voice I first heard and admired a few weeks after leaving North Carolina in the late nineteen-nineties and which belongs to someone who has since become a cherished collaborator and friend. To be sure, the ability to write for a fellow musician like Andrea Edith Moore is one of the greatest gifts I can be given as a composer, and working with her closely on this project has been a real joy. On behalf of all of the artists and collaborators, I thank her for making these portraits possible – and for rendering us all kith and kin.