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.

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Evening Comes is a windband ensemble piece dedicated to Maxwell Judah Leviss. The piece has a wide range of emotions, ranging from childlike to aggressive to poignant. Evening Comes ends with a striking reharmonization of the classic melody “Taps”. This piece would work well for any windband ensemble concert.

 

Instrumentation:
Piccolo
Flute 1
Flute 2
Oboe 1
Oboe 2
English Horn
Bassoon
Clarinet in Bb 1
Clarinet in Bb 2
Clarinet in Bb 3
Bass Clarinet
Alto Sax 1
Alto Sax 2
Tenor Sax
Baritone Sax

 

Trumpet in Bb 1
Trumpet in Bb 2
Trumpet in Bb 3
Trumpet in Bb 4
Trumpet in Bb 5
Horn in F 1
Horn in F 2
Horn in F 3
Horn in F4
Trombone 1
Trombone 2
Bass Trombone
Euphonium
Tuba

 

Timpani
Glockenspiel
Xylophone/Triangle
Vibraphone/Suspended Cymbal
Marimba
Snare Drum
Crash Cymbal/Bass Drum

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Vapors explores different sounds the cello can produce and evokes the image of airy and vapory visuals. It calls for advanced cello techniques, including extended passages of natural and artificial harmonics. This piece would work well for a string chamber recital or classical chamber concert.

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Along the Bay is a lyrical and reflective duet for soprano and piano. The poem “Along the Bay” is from a larger collection of poems entitled As Time Stops to Rest, written by the composer’s late aunt, Susan Jordan. The text describes the passage of snowflakes as they fall, join the dew, and eventually become the bay, possibly a metaphor for our lives. The references to dancing and Tinker Bell highlight the playful nature of this journey.

While Along the Bay is the third movement from a larger song cycle As Time Stops to Rest, it can also be used as a stand-alone piece in any concert or recital.

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