“Seven years ago, one of my best friends in the world, Omar Crook, got married to another of my best friends, Amy Arms. Omar asked me before the wedding if I would set
e.e. Cummings’ iconic poem ‘i carry your heart’ for the ceremony. I tried and tried to find the music in the poetry but came up empty, so instead I did the next best thing: I gave a terrible best man’s speech.
Five and a half years later I was sitting at the piano, working on another piece, and I stumbled on a single music gesture that unlocked the poem for me. That musical gesture is heard first in the opening lines of the poem:
i carry your heart with me.
i carry it in my heart.
i am never without it.
The idea that ‘I’m never without it’ was the core of the piece’s construction. And so, I finally wrote the piece and surprised them with it. I was giving a concert with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and I invited them to attend without giving them any idea what we would perform. We made it through the entire concert and then, as an encore, I announced, “this is for my dear friends Omar Crook and Amy Arms, a gift for their wedding day – a little late.” Now every time I hear it I think of this very intimate love and, very specifically, Omar and Amy.”