Dylan Chan’s Memoranda

In the spring of 2005 the Choral Society of Grace Church performed a piece written by our then associate conductor Dylan Chan. (At the time my book went to press he was a fifth-year resident in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Stanford University.) Toward the end of my book, I told the wonderful (and scary) story of premiering Dylan’s Memoranda.

A number of people have asked for a way to hear it, so I made a YouTube video with Memoranda as the soundtrack. I used pictures of the Choral Society so there was something to look at while listening. The pictures don’t really fit what we’re singing about and I basically had to use every picture I had, good or bad or redundant, to fill up all the time, but here it is!

Memoranda consists of three movements, all of which contain the words dead or death. But like most songs about death, each is really about resurrection in one form or another. Dylan hoped to get around death by showing us that music would never die. The text for the piece comes from poems by Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Enjoy!

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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