The music and lyrics of We Have a Choice were composed as a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. The piece explore aleatoric and performer-based textures that can be sung remotely through video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom. The text explores our ability to choose our own paths and reactions in every situation, hopefully ultimately choosing to embrace the story with love, joy, hope, and peace.

The piece alternates between mostly-unison chant-like textures and aleatoric branching textures, in which the performers may choose their own path.

This piece is suitable for any Mixed-Voice Choir interested in exploring virtual singing and limited- aleatoric textures that give performers ownership of the material.

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Program Note: This simple melody was composed to inspire change through the art of singing. The melody can be sung completely in unison in any octave comfortable for the singers. It can also be performed as a  round, with each entrance 2 measures apart (see * for entrance points). Repeat as many times as desired. Feel free to close the round by all singing the melody in unison. There is an alternate verse that can be used  as a round to inspire people to create change through voting. Feel free to adjust the lyrics of  lines 1 and 4 to suit similar situations calling people to action.

Please report any performances or virtual choir broadcasts to amygordonmusic@gmail.com

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The music and lyrics of In the Morning began as an original song that Amy Gordon, the composer, wrote when she was 17 in 2004. It was then arranged for Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, & Piano for her undergraduate recital at Loyola Marymount University in 2008. In this arrangement, In the Morning has been adapted for SATB Choir & Piano. The hope is that this text about finding strength in the midst of hardship will bring some comfort during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis that has rattled the entire world, including the choral world.

This arrangement would be suitable for any level of SATB Choir and would fit well into a concert about hope and triumph in the midst of trying times.

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I Celebrate Life (the second and last movement of the Light Cycle suite), commissioned by Jennifer Gaderlund for the Graham Middle School Choirs, sets the beautiful poem by Rhoda Gordon, the composer’s late grandmother, for SATB (orig. SSA) Choir and Piano. The piece opens with an excited yet hushed ostinato in the Piano. The choir sings the first four lines of the poem by repeating the beginning line and adding the next line until it is complete, utilizing the modern technique of additive processes popular in Minimalism. In the more pensive middle section, the ostinato transforms into a more poignant texture as the Choir “realizes the joy of being through seeing the glorious creation” that they are a part of. The ostinato then speeds up and returns to the hushed excitement heard in the opening. The piece concludes with the Choir building up to the most important line of the text: “The most powerful light to celebrate by is love.”

This piece is suitable for any Mixed-Voice ensemble.

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Ocean Poems contains musical settings of two poems from a set of poems of the same name by Jonathan Talberg, Director of Choral, Vocal, & Opera Studies at California State University, Long Beach (where the composer completed her graduate studies). Each poem in the set is dedicated to an important person in the poet’s life.

When We’re Gone 10,000 Years from Ocean Poems sets the beautiful poem of the same name by Jonathan Talberg. This piece uses hocket-like interplay between the vocal parts and metric displacement to create rhythmic propulsion. There is a limited set of rhythmic motifs used throughout the piece, including eighth note and quarter note groupings, triplets, and metric displacement. The technique of text painting is used for certain words to bring the text to life, such as soaring, howling, and tumbling.

I’m Still Here from Ocean Poems, sets the poignant poem of the same name by Jonathan Talberg. The poem is dedicated to Al Talberg (1928-2018), Talberg’s father. The piece opens with an insistent rhythmic motor, which is passed among the parts throughout the piece. The constant motion of the repeated text symbolizes the continuing presence of our loved ones, stating “I’m here. I’m still here.” This rhythmic motif continues in various permutations until the final chord, finally resting on the words “I’m still here twixt sea and sky,” reminding us that our loved ones are always with us.

These pieces may be performed as a suite or as stand-alone pieces. This suite would be suitable for advanced high school, collegiate, and professional choirs.

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Mars in Retrograde, commissioned by Kat Anderson and dedicated to The Los Angeles Belles, is a 3-part vocalise for SSA and Piano based on planetary motion and gravitational orbits. The voices represent the orbits of the planets (S1 as Venus, S2 as Earth, and Alto as Mars) around the sun, which is represented by the Piano. Each planet (voice) has a distinct repeating rhythmic pattern whose length corresponds to each planet’s sidereal period (how long it takes the planet to fully orbit around the sun). The repeating rhythmic pattern uses the musical technique of isorhythm, where a repeating rhythmic pattern (called the talea) is combined with separate pitch material (called the color). Venus’s sidereal period is roughly .616 Earth years, corresponding to a 7.5 measure talea. Earth’s sidereal period is 1 Earth year, corresponding to a 12 measure talea (based on the 12 months in a year). Mar’s sidereal period is roughly 1.9 Earth years, corresponding to a 22.75 measure talea. The rhythmic activity increases until the mid-point of each talea, after which the rhythmic value decreases again. This represents how planets increase in speed as they approach their closest point to the sun (perihelion) and decrease in speed as they approach the farthest point from the sun (aphelion).

The entire piece is tuned to the fundamental of Bb, as the lowest recorded note in the universe is a black hole that vibrates at a Bb 57 octaves below Middle C. The piece exclusively uses the Bb Lydian Dominant scale, also referred to as the acoustic scale, which can be created by assembling the first 12 partials of the overtone series based on the fundamental of Bb.

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Spots and Whiskers is a whimsical solo flute piece inspired by a day in the life of a cat. The piece uses extended flute techniques to mimic cat sounds such as flutter tonguing (purring), multiphonics (insistent meowing), and key clicks (claws on the floor). This piece would be a fun and light-hearted addition to any concert featuring solo flute.

It was premiered on June 2, 2018 by Gerardo Lopez as part of the Sound and Fury Concert Series in Los Angeles, CA.

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Lydian Daydream is a whimsical solo cello piece with Lydian and Lydian dominant modal inflections, which are both variations of the major scale. The piece uses extended cello techniques such as pizzicato strumming (imitating a guitar), sul ponticello (playing close to the bridge), and glissandi (sliding between notes). This piece would fit well in any solo or chamber recital featuring cello.

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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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