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FROM STAGE TO BLOCKCHAIN: HOW ARTISTS TURN CHORAL MUSIC INTO AN NFT

April 30, 2021

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Developing Betty’s Notebook took three years. The most demanding work for composer Nicholas Reeves was the months he spent transforming the choral work from a concert piece to a programmable music NFT (non-fungible token).

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For the programmable music work, Reeves developed three permutations of each layer, realizing different timbres, rhythms, ambiances to create something new.

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Each layer can be purchased, and the layer owner can switch between permutations to hear different aspects of Klenck’s story. “That’s exciting because instead of a two-dimensional form of storytelling, maybe you can have more dimensions added to it, more perspectives,” Reeves said. “The patrons become part of the creative process.”

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“[...] So, the patron gets to hear that product just like a patron gets to see a portrait in a gallery and then the patron can decide, ‘Well, do I want to buy it or not?’ It really turns upside down the dynamic of how high art is sold in music,” Reeves said. “This makes it consumer-based.”

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For the music industry, Betty’s Notebook is just the beginning. “The possibilities are endless,” Reeves said.

Kimberly Richard, NBC 5 DFW

Photography by Richard Hill Photography

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NFTs IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY: HOW 'PROGRAMMABLE MUSIC' COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING

April 28, 2021

[“Betty’s Notebook”] consists of five musical ‘layers’ or ‘stems’, each of which can be owned as an NFT token…Layers one through four represent different movements of the piece, written by composer Nicholas Reeves: ‘The Choir’, which consists of choral music; ‘Betty’s Voice’ and ‘Betty’s Choir’, which are derived from the audio of Betty Klenck’s testimony; and ‘Betty’s Radio’, a series of jazz standards. Each of these layers involves a visual element that changes along with the sounds.

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“When one person changes one aspect of a piece, someone else may respond by changing a different aspect.”

“That’s the beauty of what programmable art is,” he continued. “When you have an NFT that gives you partial or full ownership of a piece of programmable art, you are able to influence the way that other people see the artwork…this is a bridge into new ways of [creating and interpreting] art.”

Rachel McIntosh, Finance Magnates

Video: FMTV: Sam Brukhman, Head of Business Development at Async.Art + Director of the Verdigris Ensemble

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VERDIGRIS ENSEMBLE TAKES FLIGHT ON THE BLOCKCHAIN

April 23, 2021

The story of her disappearance is at the heart of Betty’s Notebook, a choral work by Texas-born composer Nicolas Reeves that Verdigris Ensemble plans to sell as an audiovisual non-fungible token (NFT) on the blockchain this spring. 

Someone who buys one of Betty’s Notebook’s four musical layers will have three different permutations created by the composer to change how the entire piece sounds. 

“It adds another level when people are participating in it instead of just sitting in your seat and listening to it on the stage. We’re inviting people to come up and you are essentially like a producer or conductor because you can change a layer,” Liang said.

With the ability to play with these different options, audience can get inside the composer’s head.

Kimberly Richard, NBC 5

Photography by Richard Hill Photography

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ART AND THE CITY: CLASSICAL MUSIC GROUPS HAVE WEATHERED A DIFFICULT YEAR. HOW WILL THEY RESPOND?

March 30, 2021

The most daring embrace of the virtual realm has come from the Verdigris Ensemble, a professional choir based in Dallas. Verdigris is selling Texas-born composer Nicholas Reeves' Betty's Notebook, a 21-minute work weaving together a 16-voice choir and prerecorded sounds, as a non-fungible token (NFT) NFTs turn pieces of digital art or other collectibles into unique, verifiable assets. They recently made national headlines when American artist Mike Winkelmann, who goes by Beeple, raked in $69 million at Christie's auction house with an NFT art collage. 

Tim Diovanni, The Dallas Morning News

Artwork by Bryan Brinkman

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THE FIRST PROGRAMMABLE MUSIC ON THE BLOCKCHAIN: BETTY'S NOTEBOOK

March 30, 2021

In a historic first for NFTs, Verdigris Ensemble releases Betty's Notebook as its genesis classical music piece on the blockchain. It is the first programmable music mint on the Async Music platform. ​

Betty’s Notebook took a total of 3 years to fully workshop and develop, 215 hours to mix, 47 hours to record, and required 23 of the best artists around the country to ensure the highest artistic quality.

Sam Brukhman, Async Edition

Video by Bryan Brinkman

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HOW CAN  BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY HELP ARTISTS SUPPORT THEIR WORK? DALLAS' VERDIGRIS ENSEMBLE ANSWERS WITH AMELIA EARHART PROJECT

March 4, 2021

The enterprising choir has recorded 'Betty's Notebook by Texas-born composer Nicholas Reeves and will sell it in four parts on the blockchain. 

Reeves' work sets text from Betty's notebook for a 16- voice choir. It also weaves in prerecorded sounds, including snippets of Betty reminiscing in a later interview and jazz tunes that Reeves composed in a style to recall what Betty could have listened to on the radio as a teenager.

Tim Diovanni, The Dallas Morning News

Photography by Richard Hill Photography

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UPCOMING SALE OF REEVES' COMPOSITION , BETTY'S NOTEBOOK, DISCUSSED ON NPR

March 4, 2021

A choral group in Dallas hopes to use blockchain to monetize their new recording. Instead of making pennies from streams, they can sell a single copy for thousands of dollars... if they find a bidder.

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Sam Brukhman, the founder of Verdigris Ensemble, is sitting next to [Anthony] Maglione. They're in the middle of recording a piece called "Betty's Notebook," which composer Nicholas Reeves based on the story of Betty Klenck, who claimed to have her distress signals from Amelia Earhart on her radio.

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Certain corners of the music world are well-versed in crypto art, like electronic artists. But an NFT from a choral group is pretty much unheard of. Whether crypto art is a passing fad or the future of art collecting, right now, Verdigris is hoping it'll pay off.

Miguel Perez, KERA Art and Seek

Heard on NPR's All Things Considered

Artwork by Bryan Brinkman

Listen to the segment here...

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ON THE VANGUARD OF ARTISTIC INNOVATION

March 4, 2021

On a Saturday morning in January, at a recording studio off the Dallas North Tollway, eight sopranos and altos sing on either side of vertical, sound-absorbing panels. The vocalists are wearing masks and headphones, and are using iPads instead of paper scores.

They’re singing a distress call — “water’s high” and “SOS” — and repeating Amelia Earhart’s name with crisscrossing vocal lines, suggesting the sound of crashing waves.

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Dallas’ Verdigris Ensemble was recording Texas-born composer Nicholas Reeves’ Betty’s Notebook, which it premiered in 2019, and will release the work on the blockchain. An online database, the blockchain allows various users to simultaneously access information, kind of like a Google Doc.

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Reeves’ work sets text from Betty’s notebook for a 16-voice choir. It also weaves in prerecorded sounds, including snippets of Betty reminiscing in a later interview and jazz tunes that Reeves composed in a style to recall what Betty could have listened to on the radio as a teenager.

Though Verdigris premiered the piece in a private concert, Brukhman thinks it works better as a recording. “It’s a radio transmission,” he says. “To have the choir in an acoustic space actually defeats the purpose of what Betty’s Notebook is.”

Verdigris is looking to sell the recording to a private collector or public space, such as a museum, in Dallas. The price tag is $150,000. Whoever buys it will get a 1930s radio console repurposed to play the composition. Verdigris will also equip the console with an LCD screen showing digital art by Bryan Brinkman, a graphic artist and animator who works for NBC’s The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.

Tom Diovanni, Dallas Morning News

Photography by Richard Hill Photography

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REEVES COMPOSITION TO BE THE FIRST CHORAL COMPOSITION SOLD USING BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY

January 29, 2021

Like many live performance groups, Verdigris, [a Dallas based choral ensemble founded by Sam Brukhman] has had to rethink how they engage with the art market due to COVID-19, and Brukhman believes the path forward for the arts is the same technology that powers Bitcoin.

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There’s a whole market dedicated to blockchain art, or crypto-art. Brukhman thinks Verdigris’ new music could draw big bucks in the crypto-art world. It all hinges on the successful recording of “Betty’s Notebook.”[Verdigris commissioned this piece by Nicholas Reeves in 2019.]

The piece fuses electronic soundscapes with vocals to tell the true-life story of Betty Klenck, who, in 1937, claimed to have heard distress signals coming from Amelia Earhart on her family’s radio.

“It’s like we’re putting the audience in front of a really old 1930s radio and having them turn a knob to hear what Betty Klenck Brown heard,” Brukhman said. “There’s all this interference and white noise and jazz standards and other things that block us from clearly hearing what Amelia Earhart was saying that day.”

 

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Let’s say I create a digital painting, and I post it on social media. It goes viral, and it’s shared all over the Internet. I don’t get a cent from that, and no one knows I made it.

But, what if I had created a piece of code – a unique digital token on the blockchain – attached to my painting that helped solve the problem?

“You can prove that you’re the original owner of something that exists online,” said Blake Finucane, who wrote one of the first academic papers on the use of blockchain in art. “An image that exists online. A video that exists online. In ways that have never been possible before.”

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But, a tokenized recording from a choral ensemble is pretty much unheard of in the crypto-art world. Brukhman wants to sell the recording for $150,000.

Miguel Perez, KERA Art and Seek

Photo by Keren Carrion

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A CHILLING LOOK INTO THE TANTALIZING MYSTERY OF EARHART'S DISAPPEARANCE

February 10, 2019

In this world premiere, [Verdigris Ensemble] pieces together fragments of a recorded interview with Betty Klenck, a woman who, in her teens, unwittingly happened upon radio transmissions that turned out to be the final distress calls of Amelia Earhart. Despite her greatest efforts, it would be years before anyone would give proper credence to Klenk’s discoveries.

Utilizing text taken directly from Klenck’s notebook, in which she frenetically jotted down the snippets of messages she received in her living room, the work offers a chilling look into the tantalizing mystery of Earhart’s disappearance. What’s more, Reeves delivers an informative lecture on the piece before its performance, providing context and insight that brings its starkly humanistic character further into clarity.

It’s a harrowing combination in use here—images of pages from Klenk’s notebook projected onto a screen and thick choral dissonances from which phrases like, “Let me out!” and “Help, I need air!” float and hang in the rafters. Brukhman’s careful conducting pairs these moments with the staticky recordings of Klenk’s voice, now in old age, as she recalls the experience.

Richard Oliver, Theatre Jones

Watercolor by Steven Zhang

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IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCES OF CHALLENGING MUSIC

February 10, 2019

The disappearance of the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart during a 1937 flight over the Pacific remains the object of exploration and speculation. One secondhand source is a set of fragmentary notes that a teenage girl, Betty Klenck, took from what she believed were Earhart's final radio calls for help.

These words form the basis of Betty's Notebook, a new work for chorus and recorded sounds by Texas-born composer Nicholas Reeves. It had its world premiere in three performances over the weekend by the Verdigris Ensemble.

Betty's Notebook makes much of dissonant choral clusters, from which Earhart's words occasionally emerge. Upper and lower voices are sometimes contrasted, and at one point the voices are overlaid in complex chatter.

Recorded sounds, to which the conductor must fastidiously coordinate the live singing, include suggestions of shortwave static and actual recordings of Betty Klenck Brown (as she became in marriage) reminiscing in later years. Near the end are close-harmony snippets of some of then-popular songs whose words young Betty also jotted down in her notebook. 

[Verdigris Ensemble's] 16 singers were the crème de la crème of the area's professional choral voices. Their enthusiasm and commitment were as evident as their skill and responsiveness to Brukhman's direction. These were impressive performances of challenging music.

 

Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News

Photo by Daniel Carde

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VERDIGRIS ENSEMBLE'S MASS TRANSMISSION TO INCLUDE A WORLD PREMIERE OF ELECTRONIC CHORAL MUSIC

February 6, 2019

For their concert Mass Transmission, performed this Friday through Sunday, Feb. 8-10, in three distinct venues, Verdigris Ensemble will bring together electronic music and vocal work, a continuation of their impetus to make choral work cutting-edge. 

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New York-based composer Nicholas Reeves transformed Betty’s Notebook, [a notebook containing what is thought to be a transcript of Amelia Earhart's distress signals written down by 15-year old Betty Klenck], into a haunting choral piece that [is to be] a world premiere. [...] Reeves’ choral piece, then, forms a ghostly dialogue—an overlay of Klenck’s voice from the interview and the live choir singing in the voice of Earhart.

 

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“The piece is not normal,” Brukhman says. “It sounds like a wash of sound. There are some consonant moments, but so many beautiful passages that don’t resolve into moments of peace and understanding. There are parts of the piece where there are over 90 voice parts playing. The sound artist [Reeves] has stretched out [Klenck’s] voice and turned it into a choir, and then there’s the actual choir. And there will be a libretto [transcription] for the audience, because it’s easy to get lost in this piece with such huge texture.”

 

Eve Hill-Agnus, D Magazine

Photo by Dickie Hill

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TEXAS NATIVE SETS AMELIA EARHART MYSTERY TO MUSIC FOR VERDIGRIS ENSEMBLE 

February 5, 2019

Could a teenager's notebook provide clues to one of history's greatest mysteries? When Amelia Earhart disappeared during an attempt to fly around the world in 1937, the official explanation was simple: Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, got lost, crashed into the Pacific Ocean and died immediately. Skeptics have been disputing that explanation for more than 80 years, now pointing to Betty Klenck's notebook as evidence of a different theory.

 

Klenck, a 15-year-old living in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1937, loved to listen to her family's shortwave radio, jotting down lyrics to her favorite songs in her notebook. In July 1937, Klenck heard a series of distress calls, presumably made by Amelia Earhart. She wrote down what she heard and kept the notebook for decades. Those distress calls are now the basis of "Betty's Notebook" a world premiere choral piece composed by Nicholas Reeves and commissioned by Verdigris Ensemble.

"Betty's Notebook" is paired with Mason Bates' "Mass Transmission," a musical recreation of a correspondence between a mother and daughter over one of the first long-distance radios.

Reeves, a Texas native, talks about his musical influences, compositional style and the inspiration for this new work. 

 

Kimberly Richard, NBCDFW

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80 YEARS AFTER AMELIA EARHART VANISHED, DALLAS' VERDIGRIS ENSEMBLE EXPLORES HER MYSTERY THROUGH MUSIC

February 4, 2019

More than 80 years after Amelia Earhart vanished from the skies, interest in the mystery surrounding her final flight hasn't waned. Investigators unsatisfied with the official explanation -- the aviation pioneer crashed in the Pacific Ocean and quickly perished -- have produced alternate theories. 

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One of them was Betty Klenck, a 15-year-old girl living in St. Petersburg, Fla. Gillespie and composer Nicholas Reeves will speak Friday at the first of three performances of "Mass Transmission: Betty's Notebook,"commissioned by Dallas' Verdigris Ensemble. 

The piece combines 1930s period music, interviews with Klenck and the choir singing Earhart's supposed cries for help. Verdigris artistic director Sam Brukhman says he wanted to explore the wonder created by the earliest forms of long-distance human communication.

 

Manuel Mendoza; special contributor, Dallas Morning Star

Right: A May 20, 1937 photo, provided by the Paragon Agency, shows aviator Amelia Earhart with her Electra plane's propeller at Burbank Airport in Burbank, Calif.   

(Albert Bresnik/The Associated Press)

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VERDIGRIS ARTIST SPOTLIGHT ON NICHOLAS REEVES

January 21, 2019

The February program opens with a WORLD PREMIER of a newly commissioned piece by Texas native composer Nicholas Reeves. Reeves’ piece sets text from Betty’s Notebook, a controversial and fascinating piece of evidence in the Amelia Earhart investigations.

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Here’s what Nick says about his treatment of this fascinating artifact. “The distribution of parts are notated as four groups: SSSSAAAATTTTBBBB, Betty’s Voice, Betty’s Choir, and Betty’s Radio...Fragments of the interview, Brown’s own voice, have been manipulated to create a choral texture forming Betty’s Choir. As a recreation of the popular songs Betty would have heard on shows like “Your Hit Parade,” Betty’s Radio simulates a broadcast of pre-recorded choral arrangements utilized throughout as stream of different memories and temporalities. The human voice is the only instrument used in the entire work.”

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SUCCESSFUL PREMIERE OF PULSE AT ADELPHI UNIVERSITY

October 19, 2018

On 19 October 2018, Maestro Vladimir Gorbik made his USA conducting debut at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY with the New York branch of the Capital Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble whose main branch was founded in Moscow in 2017. [...] [The orchestra debuted] Pulse by Nicholas Reeves ([accompanied by] a selection of short clips from near the end of the famous 1923 silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Lon Chaney)—{...} Reeves’s music combined dissonant tonal and atonal idioms with great effectiveness to portray the gothic horror surrounding Quasimodo, Esmerelda, and the evil Jehan.

 

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Under Maestro Gorbik’s firm, skillful direction the instrumentalists played with great precision, unanimity, and expressivity, with warm string tone, even in the extremely difficult music for Pulse.


James A. Altena, Associate Editor, Fanfare magazine, USA.

REEVES ON TOP 10 CHORAL COMPOSITIONS LIST

April 10, 2018

Reeves' composition Lord, Now Lettest Thou Thy Servant listed on Verdigris Ensemble's "Top 10 Ten Weekly Choral Tracks You Need To Listen To." This piece is a movement in his upcoming all-night vigil.

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REEVES HELPS TO ORGANIZE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ARVO PÄRT: SOUNDING THE SACRED 

May 1-4, 2017

As part of the Arvo Pärt Project, Reeves helped to organize an international conference focusing on Pärt's embodiment of the sacred in sound.

 

In addition to contributing to the program notes and facilitating the organization of the chamber concert component of the concert, Reeves also moderated a discussion reflecting on the inner workings of Pärt's compositions and how the sacred relates to architecture and chant.

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REEVES HELPS TO ORGANIZE CHAMBER CONCERT OF PÄRT’S MUSIC AS PART OF NEW YORK LIVE ARTS FESTIVAL ON APRIL 16, 2015.

April 16, 2015

Arvo Pärt: Journeys in Silence, is a day-long immersion—through music, lectures and film—into the stillness and depth of Pärt’s powerful music and work, curated by Peter Bouteneff of the Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

Of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, The New York Times recently said that “No other living composer has so fervent a following or such a diverse group of fans.” Live Ideas’ second day—titled Arvo Pärt: Journeys in Silence—will explore Pärt’s body of work, including austere compositions known to stir immense passions. The day will conclude with a performance of his rarely heard chamber works, expressive of a wide range of his periods and tonalities, yet all unmistakably Pärt. The program will include works such as: Solfeggio (1963), Da Pacem (2004), as well as several mainstays of cinematic soundtracks: Fratres (1977), Spiegel im Spiegel (1978) and Für Alina (1976).

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THE “LIGHT OF THE WORLD” RETURNS TO WILLIAM JEWELL

March 16, 2015

On March 16th the GKCAGO Schola Cantorum presents “Reconciliation,” a choral program featuring…an extended multi-media work for chorus, organ, and chimes by New York-based composer Nicholas Reeves. Reeves’ The Light of the World is a remarkable work which juxtaposes video testaments of survivors from the Pitești prison in Romania with a musical setting of The Sermon on the Mount. The performance, which will be held at 7:30pm in Gano Chapel on the William Jewell College campus in Liberty, will conclude with a Q & A session with the composer, Nicholas Reeves, and conductor Anthony Maglione.

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DR. NICHOLAS REEVES, LECTURED AT WESTMINSTER CHOIR COLLEGE IN PRINCETON, NJ, SPEAKING ON THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATIONS OF COMPOSER ARVO PÄRT’S MUSIC

September 24, 2014

On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, St. Vladimir's associate professor of Systematic Theology Dr. Peter Bouteneff, and Assistant Professor of Liturgical Music Dr. Nicholas Reeves, lectured at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, speaking on the spiritual foundations of composer Arvo Pärt’s music. The two faculty members have been developing The Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir's Seminary since 2011, in an effort to explore the Orthodox roots of the famed Estonian maestro's music.

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REEVES ORGANIZES SOLD-OUT CONCERT AT CARNEGIE HALL FOR THE ARVO PÄRT PROJECT.

May 31, 2014

With a sustained standing ovation, a capacity crowd at Isaac Stern Auditorium Carnegie Hall lauded the music and person of Estonian Orthodox Christian composer Arvo Pärt, after a stunning performance of five of his well-known works, Saturday, May 31. The concert was the culmination of three years of planning between the Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and Maestro Pärt and his wife, Nora, who were present at the concert. The composer was making his first New York appearance since 1984.

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MULTIMEDIA MUSICAL WORK BY DR. NICHOLAS REEVES PREMIERES AT WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE

February 10, 2010

On Sunday February 10 at the John Gano Memorial Chapel on the campus of William Jewell College in Liberty, MO, St. Vladimir's Seminary Assistant Professor of Liturgical Music Dr. Nicholas Reeves attended the premier performance of his multimedia musical reflection, “The Light of the World.” The William Jewell College Concert Choir under the direction of Conductor Anthony Maglione presented the performance, which was considered the showcase event for William Jewell's annual Justice Summit hosted each year by the school’s Center for Justice and Sustainability. 

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REEVES' UPCOMING CONCERT "SOUNDS OF CINEMA" FEATURED IN LONG ISLAND HERALD

October 11, 2018

In anticipation of his concert "Sounds of Cinema," Reeves' was interviewed by Brian Stieglitz of the Long Island Herald. 'The concert hall, to Nick Reeves, is 'one of the last places where we experience societal relations in silence and solitude.' 


At this concert on October 19, 2018 Reeves will have premiered his newest orchestral work: Pulse by the Capital Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Vladimir Gorbik. Reeves and Gorbik are co-creators of the American branch of the Capital Symphony Orchestra. 

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