Sound from the Bench | Cantaloupe Music
Released March 2017

performed by The Crossing (Donald Nally, conductor)
with Taylor Levine and James Moore, electric guitar
and Ron Wiltrout, drums
Produced by Nick Tipp

The four featured works on this album are, in the words of Donald Nally (Artistic Director of Philadelphia’s miraculously talented contemporary music chamber choir, The Crossing), “fundamentally about asking questions—questions about the world we live in, about art, and about language and music." I have never worked with a choir who understands me like The Crossing does, and together we worked to bring that synergy to life with this record. 

This album features four of my choral works:
Sound from the Bench (2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist)

Album art by Seth Gadsden
Listen to (and purchase) the entire album here




from our recording sessions with The Crossing at Morningstar Studios outside Philly

Hearne’s virtuosic and hauntingly beautiful musical settings entice, repulse, and surprise in turns, as he interweaves texts from the Iraq War Logs (Ripple), Bill Moyer’s 2009 interview with The Wire creator David Simon (Privilege), the 2013 case of rape by high school students in Steubenville, Ohio (Consent), and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision (Sound from the Bench). The latter is, according to Hearne,  “a reaction to Jena Osman's incredible book Corporate Relations, a collection of poems that follows the historical trajectory of corporate personhood in the United States. The five movements combine language taken from landmark Supreme Court Cases with words from ventriloquism textbooks. I strive toward a similar polyphony of oppositional voices and perspectives in my music, and to bring the chaotic forces of life into the work itself. It was this impulse, and the unabashedly political tone of Osman's poetry, that made me want to set some part of Corporate Relations to music.”

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Hearne’s Sound from the Bench, which comes out this week on the Cantaloupe label, represents a breakthrough, having been produced almost in the manner of a pop album, in a recording studio rather than in a church with microphones. The barely controlled chaos of Hearne’s opening moments take on a more revealing sense of control than chaos in a piece that explores how the U.S. judicial system has increasingly granted corporations power over an unsuspecting human population.

The church acoustic in which the piece was first heard inevitably had a homogenizing effect on Hearne’s poly-stylistic richness, whose words are set to harmonies that sound like an ironic version of the Beach Boys one minute and strident hellish voices in another... On the recording produced by Nick Tipp, guitars make perfect sense.
— David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Sound from the Bench lays bare rape culture, Citizens United, military-sanctioned murder, and white privilege … somehow fusing entertainment and bewilderment, beauty and hideousness in a sonic space in which it is safe to laugh, cry, foam at the mouth and rejoice … all within an hour.
— Doyle Armbrust, WQXR

Sound from the Bench is Q2's album of the week for the week of April 17, 2017