Chris Owenby - http://www.chrisowenby.com [site currently down]
Chris started studying at Georgia State just as I was leaving ('06 or so). He still lives in the Atlanta area, and is the Minister of Music at Kennesaw United Methodist Church. His site is currently down, so I did some reconnaissance and found some of his music on YouTube.
Black Riders and Other Lines - treble choir and piano
Chris has composed three songs from Crane's book of the same title. In the first, "Black Riders," Chris builds up a sense of dread throughout, though I found the text painting a little wanting. Some moments were rather serene when the words were describing spears and shields. The final chords finally give the sense of terror I was looking for.
The best effect of the second song, "In Heaven," is the use of speech. Little blades of grass stand before God and recount the merits of their lives. Chris has the singers speak ad libitum (with text he added, mostly derived from the Ten Commandments), which makes a nice murmoring crowd texture. I think it might have been more effective to use the soloist only on the lines spoken by the smallest blade of grass, rather than repeating the first two lines already sung by the chorus.
Overall, I think the songs are effective, and the harmony and textures serve the text well. While minor repetitions on descriptive words didn't bother me, I found myself wondering why there needed to be larger-scale repetition (entire lines or couplets). Crane's poetry is very terse and I feel that songs should reflect that. But then again, numerous minutes have been written on "Kyrie" and "Amen."
Tapestry - clarinet, cello, piano
My bias clearly shows now, since I enjoyed this piece a lot more. I was already familiar with it: our mutual friend Brent Milam enthusiastically recommended this piece for Terminus Ensemble, so we programmed it last year.
I like how this one develops, and throws some surprises your way. It begins with rising quasi-canonic figures in the clarinet and cello. It's pretty abstract at the opening. But most of the piece is much more middle-period Stravinsky, with odd-metered ostinati and a lean texture. It has a good humor to it. Some moments I felt hints of "too many ideas" but that kind of kaleidoscopic effect is appropriate given the title.