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.

Continue reading I Celebrate Life (SATB Version)

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 SA (SSA divisi) 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 un.l 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” 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 Treble-voiced ensemble. It may be performed as a stand-alone piece or paired with Light Up as the complete Light Cycle suite.

Light Cycle was premiered on December 12, 2019 by the Graham Middle School Choirs conducted by Jennifer Gaderlund in Mountain View, CA.

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Light Up (the first 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 SA (Opt. SSA) Choir and Piano. The Piano features a constant rhythmic motor, representing our hopefully constant dancing throughout life. The Sopranos and Altos begin in unison and then break into harmony as the texture unfolds. The middle section contains a round between the Sopranos and Altos, with the Altos offset by two beats. A third (optional) descant part sings above the round between the Sopranos and Altos. The opening material returns with the repeated text “Think light rays” but develops the material further with a few moments of divisi. The piece dramatically builds as the choir repeats the word “glow”, finally resolving with the call to “glow and dance”. The Piano’s rhythmic motor finally comes to a rest at the last measure.

This piece is suitable for any Treble-voiced ensemble. It may be performed as a stand-alone piece or paired with I Celebrate Life as the complete Light Cycle suite. The round in the middle section is a great way for any Treble-voiced ensemble to explore polyphony and part independence. The descant and divisi parts may be included or omitted depending on the needs of the ensemble.

Light Cycle will receive its premiere on December 12, 2019 by the Graham Middle School Choirs conducted by Jennifer Gaderlund in Mountain View, CA.

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Light Cycle is a two-movement suite for Intermediate to Advanced Treble ensembles. The suite, commissioned by Jennifer Gaderlund for the Graham Middle School Choirs, sets two beautiful poems by Rhoda Gordon (Light Up and I Celebrate Life), the composer’s late grandmother, for SA (SSA divisi) Choir and Piano.

Light Up is the first movement of the Light Cycle suite. The Piano features a constant rhythmic motor, representing our hopefully constant dancing throughout life. The Sopranos and Altos begin in unison and then break into harmony as the texture unfolds. The middle section contains a round between the Sopranos and Altos, with the Altos offset by two beats. A third (optional) descant part sings above the round between the Sopranos and Altos. The opening material returns with the repeated text “Think light rays” but develops the material further with a few moments of divisi. The piece dramatically builds as the choir repeats the word “glow”, finally resolving with the call to “glow and dance”. The Piano’s rhythmic motor finally comes to a rest at the last measure.

I Celebrate Life is the second and last movement of the Light Cycle suite. 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” 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.”

Light Cycle is suitable for any Treble-voiced ensemble. The pieces may be may be performed together or as stand-alone pieces. Both pieces explore imitative polyphony and would be a great way for any Treble- voiced ensemble to explore polyphony and part independence. The SSA divisi may be included or omitted as suited to the needs of the ensemble.

Light Cycle will receive its premiere on December 12, 2019 by the Graham Middle School Choirs conducted by Jennifer Gaderlund in Mountain View, CA.

Continue reading Light Cycle

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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I’m Still Here, the sixth poem from Ocean Poems, sets the beautiful poem of the same name by Jonathan Talberg, Director of Choral, Vocal, & Opera Studies at California State University, Long Beach. The poem is dedicated to Al Talberg (1928-2018), Dr. 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.

 

This piece may be performed as a stand-alone piece or paired with When We’re Gone 10,000 Years as the complete Ocean Poems suite. This piece would be suitable for advanced high school, collegiate, and professional choirs.

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When We’re Gone 10,000 Years from Ocean Poems sets the beautiful poem of the same name by Jonathan Talberg, Director of Choral, Vocal, & Opera Studies at California State University, Long Beach. 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 trios, 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.

 

This piece may be performed as a stand-alone piece or paired with I’m Still Here as the complete Ocean Poems suite. This piece would be suitable for advanced high school, collegiate, and professional choirs.

Continue reading When We’re Gone 10,000 Years

She Speaks is a choral song cycle composed by Alice Dryden and Amy Gordon, which sets the text by Sharon Goldstein. It weaves together the experiences and voices of different women, both artistically and literally. The text and the music were a result of a close collaboration among the composers and the poet. The cycle is a progression through generations of strong women. Each woman throughout history has been able to build on the strength and courage of her ancestors.

Movement 1, She Is Silent, represents a past generation that endured hardship and suppression for the sake of the next generation. The thread from the woman’s sewing machine becomes the motivic thread that weaves throughout the other movements, anchoring future generations in her quiet resolve.

In Movement 2, She Dreams, the next generation spends her days trapped, speaking other people’s words and ideas. Yet inside her, she holds dreams of her own stories and her own identity, and being recognized for her own worth.

Movement 3, She Speaks, explores vocal percussion and extended vocal techniques. The women gradually find their voices and speak out, with difficulty and first but with increasing confidence- This. Is. Wrong! This movement honors those who would no longer stay silent in the face of injustice.

Movement 4, She Rages!, is the most specific and direct response to current events. The voices of women, silenced for too long, break free- and they are furious! Each voice demands to be heard as they build on one another. The movement transitions into a triumphant march honoring the women that came before them, referencing each of the previous movements in both text and music.

The ending, co-written by both composers, ties off the thread that wove through each movement. All the voices, men and women, speak together to convey one unified message: It is more important now than ever to find the courage to listen and to speak out.

Continue reading She Speaks (Choral Song Cycle)

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.

Continue reading As Time Stops To Rest (Choral Song Cycle)

“Storm’s End” (the second movement of the choral song cycle As Time Stops To Rest) 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.

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.

Storm’s End may be performed as part of the song cycle or as a stand-alone piece.

Also see the first movement Two Friends and the third movement Magic.

Continue reading Storm’s End