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One Step Backward Taken (big band and mixed choir)

One Step Backward Taken (big band and mixed choir)


Commissioned by Chris Merz and the University of Northern Iowa.

This setting of a Robert Frost poem brings together the unlikey pair of a large instrumental jazz ensemble and full mixed choir. 

In the first part of the piece, there is some interplay between the band and the choir, with a couple of instrumental motifs that occur between phrases of the text. As the music unfolds, it builds to a more rhythmically driving section that foreshadows the inevitable disaster that the poet-narrator will witness. The line, “I felt my standpoint shaken in the universal crisis,” ushers in a chaotic section with soprano saxophone improvisation.

The music calms considerably as the poet-narrator takes his one step backward. It builds once more, but this time to a more triumphant climax before ending with a reflective whisper.

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