This piece was revised on December 20th, 2022. If you purchased an older version of this score, you can download your copy of the new score through the My Account page.
The Ocean Between Us
- The Prow (SATB divisi & piano)
- There Is No Sea (SATB divisi, piano, strings, & crystal glasses)
- So Much to Seek (SATB divisi, piano, & strings)
About the Work
During the Spring of 2018, my dear friend and creative partner Jonathan Talberg asked for an ocean-themed commission for the Bob Cole Chamber Choir. We had been searching for a text, but I ultimately convinced Jon—who is a brilliant poet—to write the poetry himself. That summer, he handed me a set of seven ocean poems written in the wake of his father’s passing that March, with each one addressed to an important person in his life.
A week later, my own father passed away.
After flying to Idaho to gather my dad’s belongings, I returned to California and turned to Jon’s poetry. I was immediately drawn to one:
“There is no sea that can drown my pain,” the text said.
“It takes 13 hours to fly to Auckland. You’re over the ocean the whole time,” I thought.
Yeah. It is not enough.
— Jonathan Talberg, from Ocean Poems
In this poem, I found a deep kinship with Jon and the gravity of his own loss. There are no descriptors or words that can fully articulate the magnitude of grief. But in these three lines, I found a mirror, reflecting my feelings in the barest of terms.
I wrote the piece in a single sitting that night. The crystal glasses were my barrier from the world, providing noise and distance to mourn. The choir and strings were the constant waves of sorrow, swelling and swelling until they spilled over.
To me, There Is No Sea is grief given sound. To this day, it is still difficult for me to listen to. But I hope for someone out there, this grief can act like a mirror—like the one I needed then.
Commissioned by Jonathan Talberg and the Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir.
In loving memory of Timothy “Tiger” Hazzard.
Practice tracks for The Ocean Between Us can be found here.