I created A Bestiary after returning to rural life in my home state of Iowa. I wrote it with choral music in mind, that's why the melodies are the way they are. I wrote thirteen poems, set them all to music, then created a block print of each animal of the farm, thirteen in all.
I have performed A Bestiary in many venues, from concert halls to libraries, for the past eight years. All ages and backgrounds respond favorably to it. It's the most universal work I've written to date. The pieces vary in musical styles, from jazzy to liturgical, because I wanted to fit the musical feeling to the feeling of the animal.
My friend Howard Levy produced the CD for me and we did the arrangements together, keeping them sparse. Howard never let the music get in the way of the poems; it only enhances them. We had great players: Don Stille on the accordion, Eric Hochberg on the acoustic bass, Jill Kaeding on the cello, Chris Siebold on guitar, banjo and National Steel Guitar, Steve Eisen on tenor and soprano sax, and of course Howard on piano, flute, mandolin, harmonica and ocarina.
This piece is very close to my heart. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed doing it. It has taken eight years to get this trade edition done. Any age can enjoy it, but it makes an especially nice present for a child. If you like it, please tell your friends. Thanks.
This publication was supported in part with a grant from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs