"I want my setting of Amazing Grace to reflect the powerful simplicity of the words and melody - to be sincere, to be direct, to be honest - and not through the use of novel harmonies and clever tricks, but by traveling traditional paths in search of truth and authenticity.
I believe that music has the power to take us to a place that words alone cannot. And so my own feelings about Amazing Grace reside in this setting itself. The harmony, texture, orchestration and form are inseparable, intertwined o as to be perceived as a single expressive entity.
The spiritual, Amazing Grace was written by John Newton (1725-807), a slave ship captain, who, after years of transporting slaves across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World, suddenly saw through divine grace the evilness of his acts. First published in 1835 by William Walker in the Southern Harmony, Amazing Graze has since grown to become one of the most beloved of all American spirituals.
The Manhattan Beach Music recording of Amazing Grace is performed by the California State University at Fullerton Wind Ensemble, Mitchell Fennell, conductor, Frank Ticheli, guest conductor. Amazing Grace was commissioned by John Whitwell in loving memory of his father, John Harvey Whitwell. It was first performed on February 10, 1994 by the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, John Whitwell conductor."