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Mirror Neurons

12 members needed
SATB with small ensemble
A new work to be composed by Andrew Maxfield
Difficulty: 3 · Medium
Length: 4 mins
Releases on Mar. 1st 2022
Must be funded by Oct. 4th 2021
$150 / ensemble

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This project will include…

PDF score
9-month premiere window
Score guarantee


We humans (and a few primates and birds) may have the neurobiology, systems of mirror neurons, that permits a shared feeling and understanding, but nonetheless it takes care and practice to develop the skill of empathy, to transform the passions of the moment (strong feelings and suffering) into compassion (suffering with those who suffer). That transformation turns voices into voices of comfort, hope, peace, and justice. And actions. We propose to create a new choral work (working title: “Mirror Neurons”) that explores empathy on two simultaneous levels: First, the text itself (which will be newly written for this commission by Lance Larsen) will be a meditation on passion-turned-compassion, on growing through empathy in the face of what we didn’t ask for. Second, the music (which will be newly composed for this commission by Andrew Maxfield) will include cues and opportunities for singers (and audience members) to practice empathy by imagining the emotional states of others and asking humanizing questions, which builds the skill of empathy. This piece—a guided meditation of sorts that prizes process, experience, and transformation—will be written for mixed or equal voices (SA or TB) with optional percussion and piano, for live or virtual choirs.


To be written for this commission by poet Lance Larsen:

About Andrew Maxfield

Comprising choral, art song, chamber, and orchestral works, Andrew Maxfield’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe. His album "Celebrating Wendell Berry in Music" was released in a new edition on Tantara Records in 2017, and his music has been recorded and performed by Choral Arts Initiative, Brevitas, Salt Lake Vocal Artists, USC Thornton Chamber Singers, and many others, including performances at regional ACDA conferences and at Carnegie Hall. Andrew has recently been an NCCO Composer Fellow and Composer-In-Residence at the Newburyport Choral Society. His music is published by Walton, Santa Barbara, and Yalecrest. After undergraduate music studies at BYU, he pursued advanced studies in counterpoint and harmony at the EAMA–Nadia Boulanger Institute in Paris, France, and additional composition studies at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. His primary teachers include Philip Lasser (of The Juilliard School), Marti Epstein, and Jonathan Bailey Holland. As a participant in the ACDA Choral Composers Forum, Andrew also studied with Aaron Jay Kernis and Steven Sametz. Recent commissions include choral works for the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition and an extended concert music adaptation of a Caldecott honor book, They All Saw A Cat, for the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts in New York City. Andrew lives with his wife Liz Davis Maxfield—a professional cellist, expert in Irish traditional music, rock climber, and doula—and their two handsome, high-octane boys in Cambridge, MA.

Other projects by Andrew