"Think Brahms, Broadway and Beatles...

then think again."

My music interests are eclectic and that shows in my work. When I start a piece, nothing is predetermined. It's a long process of strengthening the strong and dropping the weak, finding the core character of the words and music, and thus presenting a style. 

In general, I write for concert choir, although it's possible to try my pieces in other styles as well. Occasionally, I write a  jazz piece. I will offer these on the website in the future. 

One of the most satisfying parts of my work is accepting responsibility for lyrics. I don't have to call somebody if I want to change a syllable. I like thoughtful, sweet and bittersweet, but not sentimental.  I like evocative more than obvious.  I want to help you earn your audience's emotions.

So that more can sing my pieces, I try to limit the difficult sections. I try to offer something fun for all parts and most of all, a chance to breathe!


  • The background to the main page is "Implosion", an oil painting by Karen Rovner.
  • Most of the demos were performed by Carduus, a Boston-based professional concert choir.
  • Score editing and engraving is by Holly Druckman.
  • Score cover designs by Bernie Zelitch.

A live soundtrack has played in my head ever since I can remember. 

Sometimes it’s  a half-measure by Mozart,  then a Fats Waller lyric. Other times it’s my own beats, punctuating a moment of  life.  

Music was around me growing up in New Haven, CT. The Shubert Theater premiered shows on their last stop before Broadway. Greenwich Village folkies took the train to play local coffee houses and sleep on couches. The Yale student radio station was a ship of cavalier music pirates, somehow airing full albums days before you could buy them in the stores. I heard Rostropovich and Milstein play with the New Haven Symphony. I heard among the last performances of an old Benny Goodman and, sadly, a young Janice Joplin.

I studied clarinet and music theory from Yale-connected musicians, soon writing quartets and incidental music for high school plays. A child of the 60’s, I enjoyed folk, blues and popular music.  But I learned to love the Beatles when a Sgt. Pepper review gave me permission. “She’s Leaving Home”, the critic said, was “Shubert-esque.”

I told high school friends I would be a composer. I studied music at Eastman School of Music. Out in the real world, I played clarinet and wrote songs to satisfy my soul.  I had two non-musical day careers, journalist then software engineer. 

I wrote a proposal song for Karen Rovner, who liked the song more than voice and said yes. She is a talented abstract painter and we live in Boston's North Shore. We have three grown children.

Five years ago, our youngest  daughter joined the local high school choir. The concerts simply captivated me. “I can create this enchanting sound,” said my inner voice. Did I mention I sing badly? I could create lyrics and music exactly the way I wanted other people to sing!  So, I did. 

It would appear  I am on my third career as a choral composer and lyricist – but I choose to believe I am finally fulfilling my first passion.  I invite you to sample my works and share your thoughts.

Happy to be alivePhoto of Bernie Zelitch training

This Boston Globe article recounts how I came back from a cardiac arrest in 2009. The incident left me with gratitude which finds its way into many of my pieces.