David Simon

David Simon

ensemble choir (SSATB)
duration 14 minutes, in five movements
text David Simon, from an interview by Bill Moyers; Ted Hearne; traditional Xhosa translated by Mollie Stone and Patiswa Nombona
commissioned by Volti
written fall 2009-winter 2010
premiere May 2010, San Francisco
publisher Unsettlement Music
recordings Volti, House of Voices (Innova Records, 2012)
The Esoterics, Sirene (Esoteric Records, 2013) 

selected additional performances
C4, New York, Chris Baum, director; November 2010
Volti, San Francisco/Berkeley, Robert Geary, director; March 2011
The Crossing, Philadelphia, Donald Nally, director; October 2012
The Esoterics, Seattle, Eric Banks, director; March 2012
University of Washington Chamber Singers; May 2012


Privilege is a collection of five short pieces, to be performed individually or as a set. The first and third movements are settings of little texts questioning a contemporary privileged life (mine). The second and fourth movements are set to portions of Bill Moyers' 2009 interview with David Simon. Casino sets Simon's response to Moyers' question: "Why do you think that we tolerate such gaps between rich and poor?" They get it addresses the idea that there is a large segment of our population whose existence is unnecessary to the American economy, especially those who are "undereducated, that have been ill served by the inner city school system, that have been unprepared for the technocracy of the modern economy." The final movement, We Cannot Leave, is set to an English translation of As' Kwaz' uKuhamba, a Xhosa anti-Apartheid song. South Africa has a strong tradition of music being used as a tool to fight societal oppression and inequality. The setting is a tribute to that practice.

1. motive/mission


you were always fair
you were almost always kind
weren't you?

you always reached out your hand
you almost always refused to lie
didn't you?

you wouldn't close your shining eyes
would you?

(Ted Hearne)

2. casino
it's almost like a casino
you're looking at the guy winning,
you're looking at the guy who pulled the lever
and all the bells go off
and all the coins are coming
out of a one-armed bandit
and you're thinking
that could be me.
i'll play by those rules.

(David Simon)

3. burning tv song
flashing window
empty street
burning tv song

flashing window
empty street
burning tv song

flashing window
empty street
burning tv song

(Ted Hearne)

4. they get it

we pretend to need them
we pretend to educate the kids

but we don't

and they're not foolish
they get it

(David Simon) 

5. we cannot leave

we cannot leave
this land of our ancestors
on this earth

we are being killed by the monster
on this earth

shuku shuku
oh, mother, it's leaving me behind!
i want to get on the train
to get on the train in the morning
i want
oh, mother, it's leaving me behind!

(traditional Xhosa, translated by Patiswa Nombona and Mollie Stone)



Place (2018, 80 min.)
18 instruments, 6 voices
Sound from the Bench (2014/2017, 40 min.)
mixed choir with 2 electric guitars and percussion
Coloring Book (for Roomful of Teeth) (2015, 30 min.)
vocal octet
The Source (2014, 65 min.)
7 instruments, 4 voices
Partition (2010, 20 min.)
mixed choir with full orchestra
Katrina Ballads (2007, 60 min.)
11 instruments, 5 voices


Brass Tacks (2018, 6 min.)
large orchestra
Miami in Movements (2017, 35 min.)
large orchestra with video
Dispatches (2015, 18 min.)
large orchestra
Respirator (2015, 13 min.)
chamber orchestra
Stem (2013, 25 min.)
large orchestra
Law of Mosaics (2012, 30 min.)
string orchestra
Erasure Scherzo (2012, 6 min.)
large orchestra
Word for Word (2011, 10 min.)
large orchestra
Shizz (2010/2017, 4 min.)
versions for large orchestra and chamber orchestra
Build a Room (2010, 20 min.)
concerto for trumpet and orchestra
Patriot (2007, 9 min.)
large orchestra


DaVZ23BzMH0 (2016, 7 min.)
solo cello, with electronics
Parlor Diplomacy (2011, 20 min.)
solo piano
Nobody's (2010, 4 min.)
solo violin


(2-5 instruments)

Exposure (2017, 18 min.)
string quartet
To Be the Thing (2017, 10 min.)
voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016, 11 min.)
string quartet and narrator
Furtive Movements (2013, 14 min.)
cello and percussion
Interlude for Fingers (2013, 4 min.)
two vibraphones
Candy (2011, 8 min.)
electric guitar quartet
Thaw (2009, 12 min.)
percussion quartet
Ghostspace (2009, 8 min.)
mixed quartet (accordion, electric guitar, piano, drums)
Vessels (2008, 10 min.)
trio (violin, viola, piano)
Crib Dweller (2007, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (bass clarinet, elec. guitar, trumpet, trombone, horn)
23 (2005, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (flute, horn, elec. guitar, piano, drums)
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics
One of Us, One of Them (2005, 8 min.)
piano and percussion
Forcefield (2004, 5 min.)
viola and vibraphone

(6-13 instruments)

One Like (2016, 7 min.)
14 musicians
For the Love of Charles Mingus (2016, 9 min.)
6 violins
Baby [an argument] (2016, 11 min.)
10 musicians
By-By Huey (2014, 10 min.)
sextet (fl, bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc)
"The Cage" Variations (2014, 20 min.)
6 instruments (fl, cl/bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc) with baritone solo
Crispy Gentlemen (2012, 15 min.)
7 instruments (fl/picc, cl/bcl, vln, vla, vc, pno, perc)
But I Voted for Shirley Chisholm (2012, 8 min.)
11 instruments+tape
Randos (2012, 8 min.)
7 instruments (L'Histoire septet)
Cutest Little Arbitrage (2011, 12 min.)
6 instruments (2 sax, trombone + rhythm section)
Is it Dirty (2010, 8 min.)
16 instruments with 2 singers
versions for 10 instruments and 6 instruments
Eyelid Margin (2009, 12 min.)
10 instruments (brass quintet + 5 double-reeds)
Snowball (2008, 6 min.)
8 instruments (bcl, tpt, tbn, vln, acc, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 7 instruments (bcl, bn, tpt, tbn, vln, db, perc)
Illuminating the Maze (2008/2016, 15 min.)
6 instruments (tpt, hn, tbn, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 11 instruments
Music from "Body Soldiers" (2008, 10 min.)
5 instruments + singer
Cordavi and Fig (2007, 8 min.)
13 instruments
Antiphon (2003, 8 min.)
9 instruments (3 cl, bcl, 3 tpt, tbn, pno)


Animals (2018, 9 min.)
Fervor (2018, 3 min.)
What it might say (2016, 5 min.)
Coloring Book (2015, 30 min.)
Consent (2014, 7 min.)
Ripple (2012, 10 min.)
Privilege (2009, 14 min.)
Mass for St. Mary’s (2008, 10 min.)

Music for youth choir:
Room for Something (2011, 8 min.)
Away (2010, 6 min.)
Because (2006, 6 min.)
Murder on the Road in Alabama (2003, 6 min.)


Like Glass (Dorothea Lasky songs) (2017-19)
voice and ensemble; versions for voice and piano
To Be the Thing (2017, 10 min.)
voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
Intimacy and Resistance (2010, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Charleston Songbook (2008, 20 min.)
voice and piano w/ lead sheets
I Remember (2007, 8 min.)
for three sopranos, or one soprano with electronics
I Carry Your Heart (2007, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics


We Are Radios (2018)
Miami in Movements (2017)
The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016,)
Hand Eye (2015)
New Dances for the League of David (2014) 
You're Causing Quite a Disturbance (2013)
R WE WHO R WE (2013)
Histories (2012)