Celebrating The Bill Of Rights, In Song

Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. (Yelena Samofalova/YJI)

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 pemiere performance at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall Sunday, in a celebration of Constitution Day.

Composer Neely Bruce with a program for the “Bill of Rights” performance Sunday at Faneuil Hall. (Kiernan Majerus-Collins/YJI)

“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.
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.”

The program cover for Sunday’s performance.  (YJI)

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: 


Composer Neely Bruce looks over the score of his “Bill of Rights.” (Kiernan Majerus-Collins/YJI)

Youth Journalism International Correspondent 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.