One of 15 commissioned by The Crossing to honor the memory of their co-founder Jeffrey Dinsmore, I chose the text of my setting from his emails to me. Jeff passed away two years ago, much too soon. Donald Nally, The Crossing’s conductor, is of course their most visible leader. But he has said that Jeff, with whom he started the group 11 years ago, was the real behind-the-scenes drive, filled with ideas and energy. He was also the possessor of a beautiful, softly luminous tenor voice which I loved to hear.
Our instructions were to write short, unaccompanied, non divisi SATB works, so that they could be sung by a choir or by four people. You Are Most Welcome comes in at about three and a half minutes.
I forget, now, who the “him” is in the text, but I think it was either a poet or perhaps Richard Stone of Tempesta di Mare, during The Waking Sun project. The shots “from the recording” and the “higher resolution” refer to photographs Jeff took during the recording of Vespers.
Our daughter Priscilla, a member of Piffaro, was there, and I remember that photograph well. Jeff took it at the dessert-and-things reception laid out after the third and last night of recording the choir, a night interrupted by thunderstorms and power outtages, with the last bit of Vespers to be recorded—Psalm 27—the gnarliest and most difficult chunk left until the end. We just—just—got it finished by the 10 pm deadline, chewing through it phrase by phrase, sometimes bar by bar, the tension building alongside an intense calm the more difficult it got.
Yes, we all looked relieved, and Jeff was as cool and professional and happy as anyone.
The night of the premiere of this and the 14 other works, 8 July 2016, at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, was a loving and moving remembrance of Jeff, who we miss still. While most of the evening’s works were performed by the full choir, Donald chose four singers for You Are Most Welcome, opening the concert with it. Thank you, Donald. Thank you, Jeff’s love Rebecca Siler, and Maren Brehm, Steven Bradshaw, and Dan Schwartz.
Philadelphia Inquirer review: “Kile Smith’s You Are Most Welcome musicalized e-mails from Dinsmore showing how a peripheral glance at a personality can reveal things that a more earnest portrait does not.”
You Are Most Welcome
music by Kile Smith
text by Jeffrey Dinsmore, from emails written to the composer
You are most welcome.
I hope all is well in the new year for you.
I know you aren’t finished yet,
but would you mind taking
a few minutes to chat with him?
I can give you much higher resolution.
I shot all the ones from the recording
so you can use whatever.
You can use whatever you want.
I love the shot of you and your daughter,
and yes, you look relieved.
On the way to you.
Should be soon.
Hope all is well.