Fratres is one of the few pieces of music I can honestly say changed my life. I first heard it at a new music concert at Rose Wagner theater a few years ago. As far as I can tell, it depicts (if it depicts anything) a group of monks walking past you and praying as you sit in a church. The completely static drone in the 2nd Violin creates a feeling of absolute calm and serenity such as I had never previously experienced in any piece of music. I went home and looked up every song by Pärt I could find. My own music changed greatly because of this piece and my subsequent obsession with spiritual minimalist music. I realized that if Pärt (and others) could build such music out of very simple harmonic, nay, diatonic materials, I could do it too. There was no need to inject gross amounts of dissonance unless it was otherwise called for. Some of the music I wrote since then has been called “kitschy,” “a pastiche,” and ” . . . great drama, but I can’t stand the music” by people in the know, but I don’t mind. The music I write these days comes from my deep soul, a deep soul I didn’t realize was there until this piece unlocked it for me.
Like every other one in the world, my high school choir sang this. And there are a lot of high school choirs singing this on YouTube. I’m very picky about what I listen to from YouTube. This recording was the best out of numerous that I checked.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Gawthrop at the Barlow International Competition, when I was an intern and he was a judge. Very nice man. Gave us some good advice about composing, and about composing for a living.
This song was in my head when I woke up this morning.