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Compositions by BW piano technician, decades in the works, come to life

Mark Graham rehearses the BW Singers in his Songs of Ascent

Mark Graham, piano technician and accompanist, is now Mark Graham, composer, as a series of choral works, two decades in the making, comes to life at an April concert at Baldwin Wallace University's Conservatory of Music.

Graham says "The Songs of Ascents" are based on a mysterious group of psalms, thousands of years old that, according to tradition, were sung by pilgrims on their way up to Jerusalem for their yearly festivals.

Decades in the making

Mark Graham rehearses the BW Singers in his Songs of Ascent"I started looking at these 15 pieces as a group, and there is a unity and structure to them," Graham says. "I have sung in choirs all my life and started hearing possibilities for them. I think I started composing them in the 1980s."

"I looked at them last summer, and all but two were completed, so I just finished the set, not wanting to die someday with an unfinished set for someone to throw away," he explains. "It took a long time because it's just a sideline; I've been raising a family and paying for college, life in general."

BW Singers bring works to life

Mark Graham rehearses the BW Singers in his Songs of AscentAfter finishing the final two pieces last summer, Graham shared the completed series with various choral directors "for advice and critique." BW conductor Marc Weagraff liked what he saw and programmed the works into the current repertoire of the BW Singers.

"I'm of course delighted, as this will be the first time I've heard them," Graham says. "It's a bit unusual to perform a work by the piano technician, but once the students were over their initial shock they started to enjoy it and are doing a great job learning the music."

Free premiere performance April 15

BW Singers will perform "The Songs of Ascents," described as "a joyful, turbulent, uplifting and melodic collection of songs from the heart," on Sunday, April 15 at 6 p.m. at Gamble Auditorium, Kulas Musical Arts Building, 96 Front Street, Berea.

The concert is free and open to the public.

"The music is challenging, but I'm hearing good things at rehearsals," Graham shares. "The songs are better than I thought they were."

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