Based in Long Beach, CA
“Nature has a profound effect on the music I write. I find that even in urban settings we can be reminded of its impact on us as it calls us back to this stillness at the center of our hearts. Even when we aren’t sitting in the middle of a forest or hiking up a mountain, we are surrounded by it – in the air we breathe, in the birds outside of our windows, in the beauty of a pink-tinged sky at sunset. A quote from Wendell Berry’s poem “The Peace of Wild Things” reminds me to seek this stillness and beauty all around us:
“…I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
Waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.'”
Jenni Brandon (b. 1977) is an award-winning composer whose work is inspired by nature. Many ensembles perform her commissioned music both nationally and internationally. She enjoys engaging with performers and audiences, often giving talks about the business of music and the art of collaboration and appearing as a guest composer at festivals and universities across the country. As a conductor, she has led both church and community choirs and she makes guest appearances to conduct her works. She is also active as a mezzo-soprano and has sung with the Boston Pops, Pacific Chorale, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and at the Hollywood Bowl under the direction of conductors such as John Williams, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, and John Alexander.
Recordings of her works appear on the Delos, Albany, Centaur, MSR Classics, and Longhorn labels. Her CD, Songs of California: Music for Winds and Piano, was nominated for the 10th Independent Music Awards. Jenni is the recipient of numerous other awards including the Sorel Medallion, the American Prize for Choral Composition, the Women Composers Festival of Hartford International Composition Competition, and the Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition. Jenni is published by Boosey & Hawkes, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, TrevCo Publishing, Graphite Publishing, Imagine Music, and Jenni Brandon Music. She is also a yoga teacher in Long Beach, California. Visit jennibrandon.com.
The Sequoia Trio (2009) for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. Inspired by the Big Trees in Sequoia National Park and the words of John Muir. From Jenni’s CD Songs of California: Music for Winds and Piano – 2010, Jenni Brandon Music. Winner of the 2010 Independent Music Awards. Performers: Ryan Zwahlen – oboe, Jennifer Stevenson-clarinet, Michael Kreiner – bassoon. Learn more about this piece.
Sun Songs (2013) for soprano, English horn, cello, piano. Performers: Tony Arnold, soprano, Ryan Zwahlen, English horn, David Mergen, cello, Jeanette Louise Yaryan, piano. Highways – Santa Monica, California, February 2013. Commissioned by Definiens ensemble of Los Angeles for their 10th Anniversary. Learn more about this piece.
“The text for Sun Songs comes from translated text of the North American Indians.
These various texts were used in ceremonies to bring good weather, and to ask the sun to help grow the land, and to call upon the powers of nature.
I thought these three texts fit together well in telling a story of honoring the sun and nature for what it does, from bringing beautiful colors to the sky to giving us food and life. I also brought these texts together honor the Native Americans who were here first and who appreciated the Earth and all it provides for us. We should learn from their lessons in giving thanks and caring for the land and continue to practice this before it is too late to save our planet.”
I. Song to bring fair weather (Nootka)
You, whose day it is, make it beautiful.
Get out your rainbow colors.
So it will be beautiful.
-Translated by Frances Densmore from Nootka and Quileute Music.
II. Song to pull down the clouds (Papago)
At the edge of the world
It is growing light.
Up rears the light.
Just yonder the day dawns.
Spreading over the night.
-Translated by Ruth Underhill from Singing for Power.
III. A Prayer (Havasupai)
Sun, my relative
Be good coming out
Do something god for us.
Make me work,
So I can do anything in the garden
I hoe, I plant corn, I irrigate.
You, sun, be god going down at sunset
We lay down to sleep I want to feel good.
While I sleep you come up.
Go on your course many times.
Make good things for us (men).
Make me always the same as I am now.
-Translated by Leslie Spier from Havasupai Enthography.
Individual translations in the public domain.