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Celebrating The Bill Of Rights, In Song

Yelena Samofalova /


Singers take the stage to perform composer Neely Bruce’s “Bill of Rights” at Faneuil Hall in Boston Sunday.


By Kiernan
BOSTON, Massachusetts,
U.S.A. – The Bill of Rights: Ten
Amendments in Eight Motets
has come a long way since Wesleyan University
Professor Neely Bruce penned the piece seven years ago.
One hundred and
seventeen miles, to be exact.
Bruce’s musical setting
of the Bill of Rights made its premier performance at Boston’s historic Faneuil
Hall Sunday, in a celebration of Constitution Day.
Kiernan Majerus-Collins /


Composer Neely Bruce with a program

for the “Bill of Rights” performance 


Sunday at Faneuil Hall


Yelena Samofalova /


Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall

“Isn’t it incredible?”
said Bruce. “You can feel the history.”
A small chamber
orchestra and a large concert choir performed the piece. Towering overhead was
a massive painting of Daniel Webster speaking in the Senate, and behind the
choir stood busts of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster.


The program cover for Sunday’s performance 

Bruce told the audience
that this was a particularly special location—Massachusetts debated and
approved the Bill of Rights in this very chamber.
“The historic residue
is palpable,” said Bruce. “It’s very exciting.”
Bruce says he plans for the piece to be performed here “every year on the Sunday preceding Constitution Day.”
Here’s a short video interview with 23-year-old Lee Fuchs of Cambridge, Mass.,  one of the singers from Sunday’s performance at Faneuil Hall: 

This is another short video from the performance itself, the singing of the First Amendment:

Kiernan Majerus-Collins /


Composer Neely Bruce looks 

over the score of his “Bill of Rights” 

YJI reporter Kiernan Majerus-Collins wrote about Bruce, a Wesleyan University music professor, as part of his American Composers series. He wrote specifically about Bruce, about Bruce’s work and about him setting The Bill of Rights to music.