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With your help, the Society will commission 6 composers to collaboratively set Psalm 103 as a celebration of all of Creation.
With your help, the Society will commission 6 composers to collaboratively set Psalm 103 as a celebration of all of Creation.
143 backers pledged $7,877 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Saint John of Damascus Society, a nonprofit sacred arts organization whose mission is to reveal Orthodox Christianity through its sacred music, is commissioning a collaborative composition from Matthew Arndt, John Michael Boyer, Alexander Khalil, Kurt Sander, Richard Toensing, and Tikey Zes.

The group of them will collaborate on a setting of Psalm 103, the Vesperal psalm. The idea is that the psalm text will be broken up into sections, and each one will compose a section in their own musical idiom. While each section will be in a separate style, the transitions between sections will be intentionally as smooth as possible. The net effect will likely be something oratorio-esque, but we'll see.

There are a number of objectives here; once the piece has been composed, then we will seek to publish it, as well as record it (and to have it recorded by a professional-quality ensemble. Once it is recorded, the plan is to create a video montage of a performance interspersed with images from all of creation, from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic levels.

In terms of how we're proceeding, we're doing so in stages, and the hope is that each stage will set up the next one. We're going to be unveiling a Kickstarter project shortly for the purposes of being able to commission the piece; once we have the score in hand, we can use that to raise the money for the recording, and so on.

The fundamental idea behind the project comes from our board president, Hal Sabbagh, an electrical engineer and mathematician who is very interested in bridging gaps between science and faith. The confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson (the "God particle") last summer got him wondering about what in the Orthodox liturgical/musical tradition celebrates creation at these kinds of levels, and I suggested the Vesperal psalm. It generated a lot of ideas, the rest of the board got very interested, and here we are.

We hope you can help!

Risks and challenges

Deadlines are always a challenge, but we're confident that once the project is funded, we can deliver a complete published score within a year.

The biggest logistical challenge will be setting up the initial weekend where everybody meets in person to discuss the details of the collaboration; scheduling has the potential to be complicated. Once funded, we will set that up as early as possible.

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    On a budget, but want to show your support? At $1, you'll get a public thank you on our Facebook page, plus you'll receive backer updates throughout the life of the project.

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    PDF copy of the completed score, public thank you on our Facebook page, backer updates throughout the life of the project, and a snailmail thank-you card from the Society Executive Board.

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    Facebook special: Pledge $8, like us on Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/TheSaintJohnOfDamascusSociety ), get one other person to like us on Facebook and pledge at the $8 level, and you get all of the rewards at the $1/$5 levels PLUS a free digital download of the recording of the piece when it is completed (ONLY at the $8 level). Availability of recording TBA.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Copy of score for Psalm 103 when completed, shout-out on the Saint John of Damascus Society Facebook page

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    Score of Psalm 103 autographed by all composers, shout-out on The Saint John of Damascus Society's Facebook page

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    All rewards for the lower levels, plus acknowledgement in the published score

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    All rewards for the lower levels, and copy of CD when it is released signed by composers and conductor.Release of recording TBD.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    All rewards for the lower levels, copy of CD when it is released signed by composers and conductor, acknowledgement in the CD booklet when the recording is released, an 11x14 mounted icon print of St. John of Damascus signed on the back by all composers and members of the SJDS Executive Board

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    Pledge $676 or more About $676

    The $676 level is in honor of our patron, St. John of Damascus, who was born in 676 AD.

    At this level, get all rewards for lower levels, plus a DVD of video taken during the composers' collaborative sessions and public presentations.

    Release of recording TBD.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    At this level, get all rewards for lower levels, plus DVD copy of the film signed by composers and other talent and acknowledgment in the credits of the film when it is produced.

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Funding period

- (30 days)