Neely Bruce

Neely Bruce : The Bill of Rights...a new awareness through music!

The Bill of Rights: ten amendments in eight motets

The Knight Foundation surveyed 100,000 high school students on their understanding of the First Amendment. Almost half of the students surveyed thought the First Amendment rights to free speech went too far and that it was okay for the government to limit the freedom of the press It was shockingly clear to Neely Bruce that the majority of students truly didn’t appreciate what the First Amendment meant to them. Inspiration struck and an idea formed: the Bill of Rights set to music.

“They learned their alphabet by singing it; they could learn the First Amendment in the same way. Using the style of William Billings, our first great American composer, I set the Bill of Rights to music. If you want to affect political change, songs are some of the best means of getting your point across.

This 30-minute piece changes people, both singers and audience alike. You can see in their faces that they get it! And that’s all I hoped for.”

- Neely Bruce

Neely Bruce : The Bill of Rights...a new awareness through music!

NEELY BRUCE is a composer/performer and scholar of American music. A faculty member of Wesleyan University, Neely is the first and only pianist to accompany all 202 songs of Charles Ives. He is currently recording the entire project.

Co-executor of the musical estate of Henry Brant, America’s great pioneer spatial composer, Neely conducted Brant’s Orbits for 80 trombones at the Guggenheim Museum.  Alex Ross, The New Yorker,listed the performance as one of "ten memorable concerts of 2009".

Neely Bruce is the composer of over 800 works. His pop-music-based version of Hansel and Gretel was commissioned by Connecticut Opera. Spoleto USA commissioned, Flora,an Opera, based on an 18th century ballad opera for their 2010 season. James Oestreich, The New York Times, praised Flora as a highlight of the festival. NPR has the complete work, as well as their coverage of Flora, available on their website.

Neely set the Bill of Rights to music and the Knight Foundation brought the piece and composer to the Newseum in Washington DC. Among the many places this work has been performed in is historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. His latest oratorio, Circular 14 is being used as part of  Holocost Remembrances in concert halls around the world by museums and foundations.

From operas to symphonic works to vocal music to ragtime,this prolific composer hasn’t met a music genre that doesn’t continue to inspire him.

What People Are Saying

“As a longtime journalist, I’ve always embraced the First Amendment, but it wasn’t until I heard the words sung that they seized me on an emotional level. They are seared into my soul now thanks to Neely Bruce.”

— Steve Collins, Maine State House reporter for the Sun Journal
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