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Reflections of a Peacemaker  



 Fanfare  Magazine
“Finally… settings of five poems by the short-lived Mattie J.T. Stepanek (1990-2004) for children’s choir, collectively titled Reflections of a Peacemaker.  Stepanek was old way beyond his years (he died just before his 14th birthday) and celebrated life and joy in everything he encountered.  Some of the poems are astonishing in their depth (particularly “Eternal Role Call”): everywhere, there is hope.  The message of the final song, “I AM” seems to sum it all up as it celebrates each person’s individuality.  The deceptive simplicity of Grier’s settings is part and parcel of their magic.

Musical Pointers –U.K.
A fine children’s choir does full justice to some remarkable life-enhancing poems by Mattie Stepanek, a gifted child who died of Dysautonomic Mitcochondrial Myopathy at a mere 14 years of age…. It’s all lovingly put together, with full texts.  Recommended. Inspiring!

Audiophile Audition
“Reflections of a Peacemaker by the now-deceased child poet Mattie Stepanek (if you don’t know his story, Google him – it is unbelievably moving) is sung by a children’s choir, and the music is adapted accordingly – more tuneful, basic yet cleverly construed harmonies, and a simplicity that emphasizes the children’s aspect of the poetry while not dumbing it down. .

 “The final item on the disc is a set of choral pieces sung by the Chicago Children’s Choir.  Here Grier sets poetry by Mattie J.T. Stepanek, a young man who died in 2004 at the age of 14.  The poems are quite sophisticated and Grier’s settings again do not talk down.  In fact the choir makes a surprisingly mature sound and it was only after my first listen that I realized that they were a children’s choir”.
Music Web International
“I admired the choral writing of Reflections of a Peacemaker.  The Chicago Youth Choir is so good of its type that most of the time it fooled me into thinking it an adult choir.  …They certainly go a long way to putting over the Stepanek.”

Classics Today
This recording features songs – -- and a set of five pieces for children’s choir (to poems by Mattie Stepanek).  Perhaps partly a reflection of her early development, Grier’s songs are not about “tunes” but rather seem to take form from textual rhythms and inflections, the linear shape of the vocal line taking direct cues from the poetry rather than being imposed by the composer’s melodic preconception… Although most of these songs are not “about” tunes, that doesn’t mean they aren’t “tuneful” – and attractively so: in fact Grier’s experience in writing for musical theatre shows quite tellingly and engagingly in songs such as…… I AM (Mattie Stepanek), .. which you could imagine as the  big closer to a Broadway show.”

IAWC Journal
“Reflections of a Peacemaker was commissioned by the Chicago Children’s Choir to poetry by Mattie J.T. Stepanek.  Stepanek’s brief life ended in 2004 but his poetry has been celebrated for its wisdom, courage, and beauty.  Grier effectively sets these texts with sparkling harmonies and soaring melodies, capturing the excitement and enthusiasm of children, while paying homage to the profundity of Stepanek’s thoughts.  These songs serve as a lovely bookend to a recording that reaches into the depth of human experience as seen by the living and the dead.”