From 2019 until 2022, I taught at A Cappella Academy, a vocal music intensive in Los Angeles for high school singers from all over the world.
"Describe a feeling for which there is no word." This was the prompt that inspired "What Else," an original song created by Unfold, a group led by myself and Tracy LJ Robertson in 2022. We created the seeds of this song over four weeks of improvisation, experimentation, and discussion.
"What Else" ultimately became the inspiration for an 8-minute piece written for the group's live performance at camp in July 2022, entitled "The Feeling of Here." This piece integrates lyrical and melodic elements of "What Else," exploding and exploring the concept of feeling in a longer meditation.
I led Academy's Chicago cohort in July of 2021 along with Sean Patrick Riley and Tracy LJ Robertson. We recorded an interpreted and extended version of Moonchild's "The Other Side" that stemmed from a collaborative process centered around envisioning 'the other side' of the pandemic. The music video was shot in the singers' homes as well as in our cohort house in Northbrook, IL. The video was directed by myself, Riley, and Robertson, and was edited by Amer Quilala.
During our week together, we also created another video for a new arrangement called "Keep a Place," a collage of "Nazareth" by The Staves and "Self Control" by Frank Ocean. We finished recording the studio version of the arrangement from our homes over the fall and winter. The video combines footage from the singers' journeys back home with our live performance of the song last summer.
In 2020, during Academy's all-virtual year, I directed a group of nine treble voices and led them through a collaborative songwriting process with co-director Tracy LJ Robertson. I also directed a music video for the song we wrote together, titled "By The Stars," the video for which was edited by Amer Quilala. I documented the process on my Instagram, and the sheet music is available via my online store.
In my first year teaching at Academy, I directed a group of eleven mixed voices called Caeruleum with co-director Selame Scarlett.