Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music

By the time I had conceived of this album project(around 2005), Mr. Berry’s essays, novels, and poems had already affected me profoundly. In my case, expressing my appreciation for his work came most easily through music. I began with just a few choral music settings of his texts. Early performances of those pieces were received well enough that I began to imagine a larger project, which grew into what you see here. 

A highlight of the project, of course, was visiting Mr. and Mrs. Berry at their home in Kentucky. You’ll hear Mr. Berry read from his own work on the album.

Along the way, while I was pursuing this musical path, The Berry Center was emerging as a vehicle for putting into action many of the ideas the Berry family has advocated. I began to perceive a possible confluence of our interests. And so we coordinated a premiere performance in Louisville, KY, in 2013 to kick off The Berry Center’s inaugural conference and the release of Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music (Volume 1), a two-disc collaboration with Eric Bibb.

In 2016, I released a Volume 2. Entitled All The Earth Shall Sing, it adds new choral and art music to the growing project, as well as more recordings of Mr. Berry reading his work.

In 2017, Tantara Records, a fine record label with an excellent choral catalog, released a new edition of Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music, which features the best material from the original two volumes (now both out of print). Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, chair of Choral and Sacred Music at the University of Southern California, selected and sequenced the tracks and contributed new liner notes.

Over time, a project like this begins to take on a life of its own. Nothing makes me happier than to hear of new friends across the globe finding meaning and joy in this music that was such a joy to make. I hope you find joy in it, too.

Andrew Maxfield
Composer / Producer