15:00 | SSAATTBB, Piano, with Soprano and Tenor Soloists | Score

Program Note

As Time Stops To Rest is a three-movement song cycle for SSAATTBB Choir and Piano, with featured soprano and tenor soloists. The cycle is dedicated to the composer’s late aunt Susan Jordan. The works sets three poems from a larger set of poetry entitled As Time Stops To Rest, also written by Susan Jordan. The song cycle has an overall arch form of peace followed by tragedy and loss, ultimately giving way to a final sense of peace.

The first movement, Two Friends, paints a peaceful scene of two friends losing track of time as they sit by the ocean enjoying their time together. The piece opens with serene rolled chords in the piano, which continue throughout almost the entirety of the movement. The constant rolling of the piano creates a sense of ocean waves continuously ebbing and flowing. The opening tenor solo describes the tranquil setting and is then joined by the full choir as “warmth and happiness intermix to form an afternoon shared by two close friends”. The movement features lush harmonies and detailed ensemble interplay. The movement concludes with the continued rolled chords in the piano and a final soft low cluster, as if the texture is sinking into the ocean.

The second movement, Storm’s End, opens with violent and flurried storm-like arpeggios in the piano, in stark contrast to the peaceful character of Two Friends. The tenors and basses open with a rigid imitative texture asserting how “the storm raged across the bliss field”. The piano then mimics raindrops falling more and more violently before finally giving way to a calmer texture. After the “storm” has ended, the full choir enters in a mostly homophonic, hymn-like texture describing an overwhelming peace that sometimes follows after an intense tragedy or loss. The piece climaxes on the words “day” and “fire”, alluding to the feeling of being in love with one’s life despite (and perhaps because of) the pain and suffering one has endured.

The third and final movement, Magic, describes how the narrator senses the closeness of “the spirit kingdom” all around him or her, but only has fleeting glimpses of it. The piece opens with an a cappella dialogue between the altos and tenors, who are then joined by the sopranos and basses. The a cappella opening features lush and tightly packed harmonies that lead to a soprano soloist cueing in a lyrical piano arpeggio. The piece then builds to the joyous climax of the whole song cycle: “But oh, for a moment I grow flowers with my hands!”, alluding to how powerful and wondrous these brief glimpses of the spirit kingdom are. The texture then drops down to lulling a cappella chords in the lower voices as two featured soprano soloists “dance on wings uplifted”. The narrator then finally enters “the kingdom of all” he or she has been sensing, possibly through death. The movement concludes peacefully as the narrator “enter[s] the kingdom of all and AM”. The piano concludes with a peaceful postlude recalling motives used throughout the movement.

This song cycle would be suitable for an advanced high school, college, or professional choir. The movements may be performed as stand-alone pieces or as part of the full cycle.

Text

I. TWO FRIENDS

 

The sun touched the waiting air
As wind and ocean sounds
Combined
With gulls laughing

Overhead
Warmth and happiness Intermixed
To form
An afternoon
Shared by two close friends
So close we missed
The passing of time
So touched by our friendship
So eager to communicate
The moments in life
That freeze and hold still
Caught in the magic
Of true reality
Caught truly conscious
Of our connection
Two friends
Surrounded by the sea

 

II. STORM’S END

 

And the storm raged across the bliss field
As the moments of time captured the wind
And bent it, pretending it wouldn’t matter

 

The sky burned with daytime
And overpowered the night
As the birds flew higher
Almost out of sight

 

The quiet lingered in the wake
Of the struggle ended
When the pain had gone away

 

And the child stood
With tears in his eyes
In love with the day
And the wind that won
In love with the fire
Of the sun

 

III. MAGIC

 

Not far from me
Decked in light
Glowing with warmth
The spirit kingdom
Of all
Lives
Forever close
Forever Strong

 

Sometimes
Not often
Not enough
But oh
For a moment
I grow flowers
With my hands
And dance
On wings
Uplifted
With all beauty
Mine
As I enter
The kingdom
Of All, and AM