Important collaborations – JOHN GRACEN BROWN

Meeting with American poet & writer John Gracen Brown in Washington D.C.

April 14, 2011.

First personal meeting after working together by mail since the early 2000’s – Here John and Thomas outside Union Station, Washington D.C. (Photo by Nida)

About John Gracen Brown

American poet and writer JOHAN GRACEN BROWN is primarily known for his works in poetry which has been used extensively by composers throughout the world. Over the years, much of his biblical drama has received attention and use through various media. There has been some exposure through reprinting, publication, radio, stage and public television.

Works for voice and organ or string ensemble

The poems “By the Sea at Night”,  ”The Eve of the Day”, “Late Autumn” and  “DEATH”  set to music by Thomas Åberg are available in versions for mezzo-soprano/string ensemble and mezzo-soprano/organ. “DEATH” is also available in a soprano-version. Sheet music available through Swedish Music Information Centre. For orchestra versions – contact the composer and he will assist you!

NEWS 2016: ”By the Sea at Night” and ”Late Autumn” are also available in versions for tenor.

Lunch in Washington D.C. – from left Nida, Thomas, John and my dear old friend Woddy in D.C.

Listen to some of the works

HANNE MARIE LE FEVRE, mezzo-soprano
LATE AUTUMN (excerpt)
Music by Thomas Åberg. Lyrics by John Gracen Brown
Organ: Mads Wadmann. Recorded by Henrik Winther 2016
Listen on Soundcloud

HANNA-MARIA STRAND, mezzo-soprano

Hanna-Maria Strand and Thomas Åberg. Photo by Nida.

BY THE SEA AT NIGHT (2002) 14′
Music by Thomas Åberg. Lyrics by John Gracen Brown. For mezzo-soprano and string-ensemble. Mezzo-soprano HANNA-MARIA STRAND, Lunds Nya Kammarorkester under Johan-Magnus Sjöberg. Instrumentation from Åberg’s original for organ and mezzo-soprano made by Eyvind Hallnäs. Recorded at concert in Allhelgonakyrkan, Lund, February 13, 2011.
Listen on YouTube

THE EVE OF THE DAY (2013) 3′
Music by Thomas Åberg. Lyrics by John Gracen Brown. For mezzo-soprano and organ.
Mezzo-soprano HANNA-MARIA STRAND and Thomas Åberg in Allhelgonakyrkan, Lund. Recorded October 1, 2021.
Listen on YouTube

DEATH (2011) 7’
Music by Thomas Åberg. Lyrics by John Gracen Brown. Version for mezzo-soprano and string ensemble (instr. Eyvind Hallnäs).
Recorded in Allhelgonakyrkan (All Saints Church), Lund, February 5, 2012.
Listen on YouTube

LATE AUTUMN (2012) 9′
Swedish mezzo-soprano Hanna-Maria Strand performing ”Late Autumn” by Thomas Åberg (music) and John Gracen Brown (lyrics). This recording was made in Engelbrektskyrkan Stockholm on July 30, 2013. At the Allen-organ: Thomas Åberg. Sheet Music (also to a version for string ensemble) is published by Svensk Musik/Swedish Music Information Centre.
Listen on YouTube

Thomas Åberg, Hanna-Maria Strand and Johan-Magnus Sjöberg with John Gracen Brown’s latest book with poems. Photo: Stefan Klaverdal.

KARIN GUDBRAND, mezzo-soprano

BY THE SEA AT NIGHT (2002) 15’
Music by Thomas Åberg. Lyrics by John Gracen Brown. KARIN GUDBRAND, mezzo-soprano and the composer, organ.
Recorded at rehearsal in Allhelgonakyrkan (All Saints Church), Lund, June 18, 2006.
Listen on YouTube


(By the Sea at Night – DEATH – The Eve of the Day)
LARS KRISTOFFERSSON, alto saxophone and the composer, organ. Recorded in Engelbrektskyrkan, Stockholm, March 2, 2014.
Link to playlist on YouTube

From first performance with ”By the Sea…”

SHARON LIND, mezzo-soprano

From the archive: first performance with BY THE SEA AT NIGHT and the young mezzo-soprano SHARON LIND. Recorded at the first rehearsal before premiere in S:ta Clara Church, Stockholm, August 2002.

Listen on YouTube

”22 years after By the Sea…”:

LATE WINTER (2024) 4′ – for piano, spoken word, soprano or mezzo-soprano.

Music: Thomas Åberg, Poems by John Gracen Brown performed by SHARON LIND.

Photo: Sharon in SNOW!

Recorded April 2022

Listen on YouTube

A SUMMER STORM (2017) 9′ – based on a poem by John Gracen Brown

INSTRUMENTAL (string ensemble)

Music: Thomas Åberg. Instrumentation by Eyvind Hallnäs

Read more and listen

JOHN GRACEN BROWN – one of the finest poets in the US!

Thomas showing the latest Swedish recording with ”By the Sea at Night”. Photo by Nida.

Mr. Brown on the composition ”By the Sea at Night” (Brown/Åberg):

”I believe this work is therapeutic in the tense world of most of the West today. One relaxes and accepts.”

(Private letter to Thomas Åberg, August 20, 2002)

Special thanks!

Special thanks to Mr. John Gracen Brown for his encouraging correspondence over the years! Many thanks also to my friend and colleague Johan-Magnus Sjöberg and Lunds Nya Kammarorkester who launched the orchestra versions and made the pieces known to a wider audience. Many thanks also to my dear friend & mentor of this project Eyvind Hallnäs who made the instrumentations to the orchestra versions. Many thanks also to mezzo-soprano Hanna-Maria Strand for her advice and support during the composing of “Death” and “Late Autumn”!

Finally, thanks to all of you who have been involved in the performances of these works; Sharon Lind (premiered By the Sea), Hartwig Barte-Hanssen, Angela Kentsch, Karin Gudbrand, Lars Kristoffersson, Hanne Marie Le Fevre, Henrik Björlin (video DEATH) and Nida (video By the Sea …).

God bless you all!
Thomas Åberg

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