Thank you very much for visiting this site and watching my video. Your support for this Kickstarter project is critical for funding the professional composition of 26 songs I have written for my stage play musical called "Assisi's New Wine". That stage play is about the life of Francis of Assisi, a story from the Troubadour era of the late Middle Ages. Music flows through this story showing the beloved historical figure of Francis of Assisi as a jovial young man transformed into a person resolutely following the purposes of God, and through the trials of his life birthing transformative songs in others around him as well as beyond - to his current followers serving around the world today.
The professional music composer for this project is Jan-Hendrik Harley, a recent graduate of the University of North Texas School of Music. You may read more about him here.
More about Jan-Hendrik Harley and his music
Here are some lyrics from a song that I wrote.
THE MOST SACRED THINGS IN LIFE
CANNOT BE FOUND IN WHAT WE SEE
THE WELL-BEING THAT WE HAVE
DOES NOT ARISE FROM INDUSTRY
OUR GREAT STATURE AND OUR HEALTH
IS BUT FLEETING IN THE BREEZE
THE EARTH THROWS OFF A VIOLENT HEAVE
AND WE ARE FORCED ONTO OUR KNEES
LOVE HAS COME TO ME
EVEN THOUGH I DID NOT SEEK
IT CAME AND FOUND ME OUT
AND BROKE MY INNER BEING
THERE IS NOTHING THAT I HOLD
THAT COMPARES WITH IT YOU SEE
LOVE HAS PICKED ME UP
I AM TRANSFORMED AND NOW I’M FREE
IT’S ONE WHOM I DID NOT KNOW
ITS EFFECT ON MY LIFE
I WANT THE WHOLE WORLD TO KNOW
I WAS WRAPPED UP IN MY LIFE
ALL THINGS ROUND ME WERE NOT RIGHT
I’VE AN ORDERED LIFE
I AM NOW FILLED WITH A NEW LIGHT
POVERTY, MY FRIEND
IS NOW MY NEW COMPANION
FAR FROM DESTITUTION
I’VE FOUND THE REAL SOLUTION
I’M THE RICHEST MAN ON EARTH
I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED
MY GOLDEN CUP’S FULL
WITH HIS LIFE’S WORK THAT I NOW READ
Without the professional composition of these songs, there is no Assisi's New Wine stage musical! By your investment, you are not only helping to bring a 13th Century story to life for a new 21st Century audience, you are also a part of inspiring others to reach beyond themselves today and be the life-changers or Francis's of our generation.
The progression of goals for this project are (1) to get the music composed so that Assisi's New Wine can be performed on stage, starting off with, somewhere in North Texas; (2) build the reputation and support base for Assisi's New Wine so that it can be performed in other theaters in Texas and nearby states; (3) as the musical is being performed in an increasing number of locations and more individuals are being engaged as fans and supporters, partner with key people in initiating endeavors that will positively transform key communities through the teachings of Francis of Assisi and the Bible; and (4) working on Assisi's New Wine global vision as my family has heart connections in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
What I am attempting to do is raise the money for the professional composition of the songs I have written. This will include the scores and a soundtrack usable for theater production. Professional composition rates average about $300 per minute of composed music. I have about 65-70 minutes of music I have written. The professional fee for this project is approximately $20,000. When all of the money is raised, the end product will be 26 songs which will (a) be a soundtrack usable for putting Assisi's New Wine on in a theater; and (b) a collection of compositions able to be enjoyed on their own.
I want to make clear that while raising the money for this project is very critical, I also wish to engage followers for this project. For those who are interested, I want to send you regular updates of the progress of Assisi's New Wine, not just the music, but also the launching of the stage musical, and any other endeavors that might arise before or after that, relating to this project. I want you to know that if you support this project, I take that support very seriously, recognizing that wherever this project goes, the destination it reaches, and the lives it impacts is due to your generous support. In my mind, you have the right to regular communication from me throughout the life of this project.
If you are curious as to the quality of what this soundtrack might be, I have included a link below to Jan-Hendrik's website where other demos exist that he has created.
What is involved in the professional composition of these songs?
Why is completing this music to tell the story about Francis of Assisi critical?
St. Francis was a transformational figure, both in his time and ours. He took on pillars of the church and societal establishment and made an enduring mark, impacting countless numbers of lives, even today. Even the leaders of the early Italian Renaissance owe a great deal to Francis' love of nature and man. One of my hopes is that this story will start dialogues that will encourage modern Francis's to undertake small or great radical endeavors in their communities and spheres of influence.
My goal with this project is to get the music professionally composed so that the stage musical can be experienced by as many people as possible, first in English, and then in other languages. Francis was really a man of the people, and it is important to me to eventually have this story and its music speak to audiences who hear this in their own language and cultural context. This is a work of art which will hopefully be able to transform individuals. Many in our world today are looking for people who are transformative, who have a lifestyle that makes a difference. Many can be inspired through the arts: Assisi’s New Wine endeavors to do that with its combination of a story of a transformed life, that life’s impact upon others, and music.
The musical compositions for the songs in Assisi’s New Wine are critical as the song lyrics are integral to Assisi’s New Wine. Without the songs, there is no story.
Risks and challenges
I have identified a composer, Jan-Hendrik Harley, who has a good reputation among people who have worked with him in the US, South Africa, and Europe. He is a very responsible professional, and I don't anticipate that he will incur delays in completing this project. If for any reason there are delays, I will contact all supporters and provide detailed status updates and revised timelines.
I feel that in my relationship with God, He has given me a passion for the city in the realms of aesthetics, the arts, commerce, education, the environment and social life. Assisi's New Wine brings these passions out in a story form that is timeless in the sense that Francis of Assisi is a beloved historical figure who has had an impact upon millions due to his example while he was on the earth.
I initiated this project from a desire to bring historical figures to life for 21st Century audiences. This story has evolved over the the last seven years I have been engaged in crafting it.
I grew up with a broad appreciation of music including classical, jazz, swing, musicals, folk, classic rock, hymns and other inspirational songs. Many times were spent attending classical, jazz and other concerts, as well as singing in school and church choirs. In addition to that, I have been a real student of European history, and have come to appreciate many of the famous composers. Music and the arts in general add a great deal of cultural wealth to my life.
I wrote a fiction book about ten years ago. Most recently I wrote a blog on city life, dealing with its aesthetic, artistic, commercial, educational, environmental, and social realms. The inspiration for the 'Assisi's New Wine' project came from another video I had produced, which was a monologue on the life of Martin Rinkart, a German pastor and hymnist during the Thirty Years War.
An American in Italy
I have considered, how does one write a story about a historic figure of another era in another culture. For me the process involves having a genuine curiosity about the world. How does a culture meander to a certain fixed mark at a particular point in time? What were the commercial ideas, clan relationships, artistic endeavors, and philosophical pronouncements that arranged the food, wine and tableware in the homes and public places?
For me, the more that I wrote and re-wrote whole sections of this story, the more as a creator I was eating, drinking and dreaming about these characters and what they were saying and doing. The melodies that I wrote would play themselves in my head to the degree that I knew they belonged and were real to the story. Even in the edits, re-edits, and professional reviews, I had an intrinsic sense about the reality of certain parts of the story. If those parts were not stated or implied, the story simply would not exist.
I did not use a single visual template to create or refine this story. I wanted it to be as free from bias as possible. I did not set out to craft a period piece, an artistic drama or religious story. Assisi's New Wine includes some of all of those things though and more. When I view a painting, I want to have my eyes rest on the beauty and technical proficiency of the painting, and not get distracted by the frame. For me the story should be good whether it is a period piece, an art movie or a religiously-inspired story. The adjectives don't make the story.
How Did I Walk in Francis' Shoes?
I appreciated from the beginning of this project that it was not sufficient to simply read some books about Francis and let the creative mind travel wherever it would. I needed to actually travel to Assisi and walk in his actual steps in the town and surrounding countryside. Both in 2009 and in 2012, I traveled there, staying in 1,000 year old buildings lining medieval cobblestone streets. Assisi is a very hilly town with numerous vistas from which one can glean timeless perspectives from the ramparts of the ancient houses stair-stepped along the hill to the acres of vineyards flowing down the hillsides below. I walked past the prominently situated villa of the Bernadone family, and saw how Francis with his outgoing youthful personality really was the center of attention for certain young men in the town. Relaxing at a gelateria on the Piazza Del Commune, I could envision rowdy townspeople seated in outdoor bars throwing tomatoes, wine and anything else they could get their hands on in the direction of performers they didn't like. The ultimate experience I had occurred in 2012 when my wife and I were in Assisi, and we took a ninety minute hike from the town up Mount Subasio, a journey Francis took on numerous occasions to get away from people to enjoy solitude in prayer. While we decided, unlike Francis, to keep our shoes on for the journey, it was still easy to imagine the numerous experiences he had in those woods leaving from and returning to Assisi.
The music to The Road I Travel