From Wilderness

A Meditation on the Pacific Crest Trail

Jeffrey Derus composer
Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott conductor

Release Date: April 22, 2022
Catalog #: NV6421
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Vocal Music
Choir
Orchestra

Spanning landscapes from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail covers thousands of miles of natural beauty, creating a transformative journey captured in FROM WILDERNESS from Navona Records. Choral Arts Initiative, conducted by Brandon Elliott and joined by cellist Kevin Mills, paints these landscapes from composer Jeffrey Derus with vibrant color, with vocal soloists giving identities to the spirit animals one may encounter on the trail. A concert-length work and meditation, the listener will hear a wash of sounds that allow for introspective reflection on the sacredness of nature, the profound text, and themselves.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Root: Survival Chakra & Journey Into Yourself Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kevin Mills, cello 6:03
02 Sacral: Emotions Chakra Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 2:35
03 Southern California: No 1 Campo & No 2 Warner Springs Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 2:55
04 Southern California: No 3 Cajon Pass Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 1:55
05 Southern California: No 4 Agua Dolce & No 5 Tehachapi Pass & No 6 Walker Pass Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 5:20
06 Southern California: No 7 Kennedy Meadows Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 1:24
07 Solar Plexus: Vitality Chakra Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 2:58
08 Sierras: No 1 Crabtree Meadows & No 2 Muir Pass & No 3 Tuolumne Meadows Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kevin Mills, cello 3:56
09 Sierras: No 4 Sonora Pass Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 1:38
10 Sierras: No 5 Echo Lake Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kevin Mills, cello 1:27
11 Heart: Love Chakra Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 2:53
12 Northern California: No 1 Donner Summit Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 1:30
13 Northern California: No 2 Belden Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 2:50
14 Northern California: No 3 McArthur-Burney Falls State Park Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 0:59
15 Northern California: No 4 Castle Crags & No 5 Etna Summit Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 1:21
16 Northern California: No 6 Seiad Valley Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 0:57
17 Throat: Creativity Chakra Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 3:06
18 Oregon: No 1 Crater Lake Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kirk Averitt, baritone soloist 1:18
19 Oregon: No 2 Mt Thielsen Wilderness Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Genie Hossain, alto soloist 1:02
20 Oregon: No 3 Diamond Peak Wilderness Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Taylor Jacobs, tenor soloist 1:29
21 Oregon: No 4 Mt Washington Wilderness Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Timothy Cervenka, bass soloist 1:12
22 Oregon: No 5 Mt Jefferson Wilderness Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Anna Kietzman, soprano soloist 1:05
23 Oregon: No 6 Mt Hood Wilderness & No 7 Cascade Locks Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Anna Kietzman, soprano soloist; Genie Hossain, alto soloist; Taylor Jacobs, tenor soloist; Kirk Averitt, baritone soloist 2:17
24 Third Eye: Intuition Chakra Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor 3:01
25 Washington: No 1 White Pass & No 2 Snoqualmie Pass Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kevin Mills, cello 0:46
26 Washington: No 3 Stevens Pass Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kevin Mills, cello 0:55
27 Crown: Cosmic Chakra & Washington: No 4 Rainy Pass Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kevin Mills, cello 2:20
28 British Columbia: Manning Park Jeffrey Derus Choral Arts Initiative | Brandon Elliott, conductor; Kevin Mills, cello 4:23

Choral Arts Initiative
Sopranos Valentina Bocca-Hackwith, Anastasia Belleza-Gastelum,
Anna Kietzman, Rebecca Smith, Lorraine Joy Welling, Emmalee Wetzel

Altos Rachel Asmus, Anna Caplan, Carrie Dike,
Genie Hossain, Kyrstin Ohta, Tiffani Santiago

Tenors Stephen Amundson, Benjamin Glasner, Herman Hope,
Taylor Jacobs, Dawson Ma, Yngwie Zamarippa

Basses Kirk Averitt, Marcus Carline, Timothy Cervenka, Nathan Diaz,
Ashton Bocca-Hackwith, Marlon Santizo, Marcos Torres

Crystal Bowl Players Rachel Asmus, Anna Caplan, Marcus Carline, Benjamin Glasner, Tiffani Santiago, Marlon Santizo, Rebecca Smith, Yngwie Zamarippa

Special thanks to our family of supporters. You are the reason we sing.

Choral Arts Initiative Board of Directors
Loren Asmus
Jeffrey Derus
Kellori Dower
Brandon Elliott
Lisa Murphy
Savana Thomas
Lorraine Joy Welling

Choral Arts Initiative Staff
Marcus Carline, Audio & Video Production Assistant
Brandon Elliott, Founding Executive & Artistic Director
Sarah Gunstream, Marketing & Publicity Director
Kyrstin Ohta, Administrative Associate
Justin W. Thai, Production Assistant
Christopher Thume, Videographer

Recorded July 24 and 25, 2021 at EastWest Studios in Hollywood, California
Recording Session Producers Brandon Elliott & Jeffrey Derus
Recording Session Engineer Jorge Vivo
Assistant Producer Connor Scott
Assistant Engineer Hannah Kacmarsky
Production Assistant Justin W. Thai
Photos of the Choral Arts Initiative Allan Helmick Photography

Audio Masters ⓟ 2022 Choral Arts Initiative

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Morgan Santos

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran
Content Manager Sara Warner

Artist Information

Choral Arts Initiative

Choral Arts Initiative

Ensemble

We believe that we have the opportunity to be a living metaphor that celebrates unity. We believe that fostering and embracing the music of emerging composers is critical to our art form. We believe that our community deserves to hear the greatest performances of new choral music. We believe that passion and sincerity should be at the forefront of all musical endeavors. We are Choral Arts Initiative.

Learn More
Jeffrey Derus

Jeffrey Derus

Composer

Jeffrey Derus is an American composer, educator, and singer. His music has gained national and international presence with commissions and performances from a variety of ensembles such as Choral Arts Initiative, INSPIRARE, Inversion Ensemble, KC VITAS, Constellation Men’s Ensemble, the Nova Scotia Choral Federation, QED Vocal Ensemble, Magpies & Ravens, the Afternoon Singers, Temple University, Vanguard University, Saddleback College, and the Temecula Master Chorale. Hailed as “elegant” by the Voice of OC, Derus’s music is recognized by critics, performers, and audiences for its lyrical voice and lush soundscapes.

He is the recipient of the composer residency with the Britten-Pears and Holst Foundation in Aldeburgh, United Kingdom. He is also a founding board member and choral artist of Choral Arts Initiative. Derus holds a B.A. degree in Choral Music Education and Conducting with a Secondary Music Education Credential from California State University of Fullerton and a M.A. in Education and Curriculum Design from Brandman University. He is currently the Vocal Music Director at Canyon High School with an award-winning choral, vocal, guitar, and composition program. His music is available at MusicSpoke and J.W. Pepper marketplace. From landscapes to soundscapes, learn more at www.jeffreyderus.com.

Brandon Elliott

Conductor

Brandon Elliott enjoys an expansive career as a conductor-educator, musician, arts leader, and consultant. He is the Founder & Artistic Director of Choral Arts Initiative, an award-winning new music choral ensemble based in Orange County CA. Under his leadership, Choral Arts Initiative has received critical acclaim and recognition for its artistic excellence, musical innovation, and dedication to performing music from a vibrant roster of living composers. With a passion for new music, he has conducted the premiere of over 70 works.

Equally passionate about teaching, training, and mentoring musicians, Elliott is the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Moorpark College. He conducts three ensembles and oversees program area courses, such as opera workshop, applied voice, vocal technique, and vocal development. He also teaches special topics such as Introduction to Music Business and Introduction to Music Education. He regularly serves as an adjudicator, clinician, preparatory conductor, guest conductor, and guest speaker for festivals, competitions, and local K-12 programs. He is a semifinalist for the 2022 GRAMMY Music Educator Award.

As a vocal musician, Elliott has sung with various professional and contracted choruses. Previous engagements include singing under Craig Hella-Johnson in the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Pacific Chorale with John Alexander, and various ad hoc ensembles for artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Beck, Star Wars Live, and Zelda Live. He teaches voice students in classical, musical theater, and pop genres, with current and former students performing on Broadway, recording projects, and various stages across the country.

Elliott’s expertise in leadership and change management paired with experience in the music industry allows him to work as a consultant for various clients and industry sectors. He is well-versed in navigating the mainstream music industry, from managing pop artists to serving as a negotiation advisor for major record label deals. He works with various entertainment entities in the entertainment sector to navigate the intersection of music usage and DEI initiatives. He also consults corporations on leadership development, new employee onboarding, training, and employee motivation in the private sector.

Elliott maintains professional memberships with ACDA, NAfME, MACCC, and Chorus America. His writings have been featured in both Tactus and The Music Educators Journal. Additionally, he has presented on choral entrepreneurship at the 2016 and 2017 Chorus America national conferences and was a panelist for the CCDA Choral Leadership Academy. He currently serves on the California Choral Directors Association board as the Repertoire & Resources Chair for Community and Professional Choruses. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and a teaching credential from California State University, Fullerton, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, a specialist certificate in Music Business Leadership from the Berklee College of Music, and a Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California. Learn more at brandon-elliott.com.

Kevin Mills

Kevin Mills

Cello

Kevin Mills, a native of Southern California, has been residing in the Los Angeles area since completion of his schooling. With an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and a Bachelor of Music degree from California State University of Fullerton, Kevin has been working in the world of classical music in all facets. He acts as Assistant Principal Cellist of Las Vegas Philharmonic and Rogue Valley Symphony as well as a member of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. Frequent recording studio appearances have allowed him to work at prestigious studios such as Capitol Records and Sony Pictures. An avid chamber music player, Kevin travels often across the country as well as overseas to perform with organizations such as The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York and The Greenhouse Foundation in Seoul, Korea. He is most fortunate to have been gifted a coveted instrument, a 1779 Renault & Chatelain, from his dear first cello teacher. For more information visit www.kevinmillscello.com.

Notes

FROM WILDERNESS is a concert-length work and meditation on the transformative experience of traveling the Pacific Crest Trail. As you travel up the west coast from Campo, California to Manning Park, British Columbia, you will hear a wash of sounds that allows for reflection on the sacredness of nature, on the inspiring texts, and on yourself. The cello accompanies you as you discover the beauty and serenity of each stop. Through the healing properties of the seven chakras, the meditation is guided by the celestial sounds of crystal singing bowls. Vocal soloists give identity to the spirit animals you may encounter on the trail. Just as the trail leaves you with something you have learned, you are left with an experience that will last beyond the final cutoff, something that is with you forever. From landscapes to soundscapes, this work offers a moment for self-discovery and self-healing.

– Jeffrey Derus

Inspired by the call to champion new choral music, Choral Arts Initiative was set to premiere this work in March of 2020. Due to the nationwide shutdown, the ensemble turned to the studios to capture this work in recorded form after sixteen months apart. The piece creates a time and space for meditation and healing, something that is timely and relevant now and later. May you begin that long journey into yourself.

Texts

And you?
When will you begin that long journey into yourself?

— Poetry by Jalal al-Din Rumi, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Campo – A Country Pathway
I come upon it suddenly, alone –
A little pathway winding in the weeds
That fringe the roadside; and with dreams my own,
I wander as it leads.

— Poetry by James Whitcomb Riley, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Warner Springs – The Singing Sands
Over the graying desert
Broods the sky.
Clouds drift- sands shift-
Night winds sigh.
Through the hush and stillness
Silver shadows fly, sings and passes by.

— Poetry by Lucy Eddy, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Cajon Pass – To A Star Seen At Twilight
Hail solitary star!
That shines from thy far blue height,
And overlook Earth
And Heaven, companionless in light!

— Poetry by John Rollin Ridge, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Agua Dolce – Desert Places
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars- on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

— Poetry by Robert Frost, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Tehachapi Pass – Quote, Native American
“…remember this land does not belong to you,
it is you who belongs to this land.”

— Quote by Unknown Native American, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Walker Pass – Joshua Tree
The wind said
Wayfaring and wandering
Is not for mortals…

— Poetry by A. R. Ammons, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Kennedy Meadows – Auguries Of Innocence
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower.

— Poetry by William Blake, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Crabtree Meadows – Mountain Trails I
Night stands in the valley.
Her head is bound with stars,
While Dawn, steals through the silent trees.

— Poetry by Marjorie Allen Seiffert, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Muir Pass – Mountain Trails I
Behind the mountains
Morning shouts and sings
And dances upward.

— Poetry by Marjorie Allen Seiffert, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Tuolumne Meadows – Quote, John Muir
“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!
To behold this alone is worth the pain of any excursion a thousand times over.”

— Quote by John Muir, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Sonora Pass – The Cliff Temple IV
Over me the wind swirls.
I have stood on your portal and I know.
You are further than this,
still further on another cliff.

— Poetry by Hilda Doolittle, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Echo Lake – Mountain Trails VIII
This hidden lake is a sapphire cup.
An offering clearer than wine, Colder than tears.
The mountains hold it toward the sky in silence.

— Poetry by Marjorie Allen Seiffert, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Donner Summit – The Deer Lay Down Their Bones
I follow the narrow cliffside trail halfway up the mountain…
Above the deep canyon.

— Poetry by Robinson Jeffers, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Belden – A Thunderstorm
The leaves hang still…
the hurrying centers of the storm unite,
From heaven’s height, the wild white flash…
the pealing thunder crash,
then comes the rain… column in column.

— Poetry by Archibald Lampman, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Mcarthur-Burney Falls State Park – Quote, John Muir
“A few minutes ago, every tree was excited…
bowing, waving, swirling and topping their branches…
to the roaring storm.”

— Quote by John Muir, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Castle Crags – Quote, John Muir
“But though to the outer-ear these trees are now silent,
Their songs never cease.”

— Quote by John Muir, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Etna Summit – Summer Images
Rich music breathes in Summer’s every sound;
And in her harmony of woods, meadows, all around…

— Poetry by John Clare, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Seiad Valley – Quote, Kate Chopin
“I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have,
to detect the music, not of spheres, but of earth…?”

— Poetry by Kate Chopin, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Crater Lake – Wilderness
There is a wolf in me… fangs pointed, tongue red…
I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me
and the wilderness will not let it go.

— Poetry by Carl Sandburg, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Mt. Thielsen Wilderness – Wilderness
There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox…
I circle and loop and double cross.
I got this too from the wilderness
and the wilderness will not let it go.

— Poetry by Carl Sandburg, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Diamond Peak Wilderness – Wilderness
There is a fish in me … it swims in the rivers and streams of my hopes…
It came from salt-blue water-gates… before land was.
I got the fish from the wilderness
and the wilderness will not let it go.

— Poetry by Carl Sandburg, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Mt. Washington Wilderness – Wilderness
There is an eagle in me… the eagle flies among the mountains of my dreams…
I keep the eagle because the wilderness says so.

— Poetry by Carl Sandburg, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness – Wilderness
There is a mockingbird in me… it warbles over the foothills of my wishes…
I got the mockingbird from the wilderness
and the wilderness will not let it go.

— Poetry by Carl Sandburg, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Mt. Hood Wilderness – Wilderness
O, there is a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my head, under my heart –
and something else…

— Poetry by Carl Sandburg, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Cascade Locks – Wilderness
For I am the keeper of the menagerie,
I say yes and no,
I sing and work and kill,
I came from the wilderness.

— Poetry by Carl Sandburg, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

White Pass – Darkness
I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

— Poetry by George Gordon Byron, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Snoqualmie Pass – I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud
I wandered lonely as a Cloud…
beside the Lake, beneath the trees.

— Poetry by William Wordsworth, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Stevens Pass – From Wilderness
A silver ray of sun
pierced the heavy shade.
It called me out into the dawn,
from wilderness I was made.

— Poetry by Matthew Derus

Rainy Pass – Walk
Walk.
Walk as the mountain, the earth, the wind.
Walk as the trees, their leaves, the flowers.
Walk as the sun, its rays, its warmth.

— Poetry by Nora Ghassan Abdullatif, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Manning Park – Walk
Walk as a heart wide open vibrating in love and trust.
Walk as pure love, emanating from the universe.
Walk as presence, a present to existence.
Walk.

— Poetry by Nora Ghassan Abdullatif, adapted by Jeffrey Derus

Chakra Seed Syllable & Mantras:

[Lam] ROOT – Musical Note: C

[Vam] SACRAL – Musical Note: D

[Ram] SOLAR PLEXUS – Musical Note: E

[Yam] HEART – Musical Note: F

[Ham] THROAT – Musical Note: G

[Ksham] THIRD EYE – Musical Note: A

[Om] CROWN – Musical Note: B