Atomic Soldiers

SATB, flute, violin, viola, cello

“Atomic Soldiers” sets the words of soldiers who were subjected to tests of nuclear weapon explosions in battleground situations, excerpted with the kind permission of the New York Times and Morgan Knibbe, filmmaker, from the documentary “The Atomic Soldiers” released in 2019. These soldiers were prevented from speaking about their experiences until the 1990’s, and could have been charged with treason for doing so before that. Musically, it revisits the opening descending figure of the Prologue, and this time it takes the form of a chaconne. The soldiers’ parts, rather than being given to an individual voice, are taken by sections of the chorus. In their interviews, the soldiers tell the stories one at a time, in a linear fashion, but when sung by the chorus, the lines can be re-constructed and layered upon each other as well.

Premiere performance, recorded inside the B Reactor.


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SATB and piano, from “Here, Bullet

The choral version of this piece from the song cycle for tenor, chorus, and piano. Heart-pounding, intense. “It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.” Sa’di

See the song cycle page for more information.

Reginald Unterseher · “Here, Bullet” 3. Sadiq, Unterseher
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It should make you shake and sweat,

nightmare you, strand you in a desert

of irrevocable desolation, the consequences

seared into the vein, no matter what adrenaline

feeds the muscle its courage, no matter

what god shines down on you, no matter

what crackling pain and anger

you carry in your fists, my friend,

it should break your heart to kill.

–Brian Turner

Nuclear Dreams: an Oral History of the Hanford Site

Mezzo and Baritone soloists, SATB Chorus, chamber orchestra

Nuclear Dreams: an Oral History of the Hanford Site is a concert-length work exploring the stories and night dreams of those who lived or worked on the land that became the site of the B Reactor, the first full production plutonium reactor in history, part of the Manhattan Project. Plutonium from the B Reactor was used for the Trinity test explosion and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

The piece is featured starting on page 44 of the linked article in the April 2020 Choral Journal “Singing in the Cathedral of the Nuclear Age” by Molly Holleran.

Here are some videos and the program from the premiere by the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, Justin Raffa, conductor. More information can also be found on the Facebook event for the premiere.

Below is a video made from the audio recording on opening night of the piece “Atomic Soldiers.” Atomic Soldiers is now available to be purchased separately

Below is performance video of “Spoonful of Tank Waste,” recorded inside the reactor itself with a live audience.

Below is a performance video of “I Didn’t Know They Work Here,” also recorded inside the reactor with audience.

Below is a performance video of “Spring of Paradise/J. Robert Oppenheimer’s Gita (Reprise)”

Here is the program from the premiere which contains complete program notes, the libretto, and performer information.


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