The music and lyrics of Songs of Hope in Strange Times: In Times of Hibernation was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020 and was commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA Choir. The overall song cycle is five movements long, with each movement reflecting on how to find hope and meaning during strange and unknown times of life. After the first scary and frenetic days in March, 2020 when the severity of COVID-19 started to become apparent in the USA, the world then seemed to enter a deeper state of hibernating and waiting, but it was not always clear exactly what was being waited for. In this second movement, In Times of Hibernation, the text asks whether we can find meaning in times of deep hibernation and seemingly-endless waiting. The answer may be that we have to simply wait and hold our breath along with time as the events unfold. It may be that the deepest meaning may be found during the quietest of times.
Commissioned & Remotely Recorded by: SACRA/PROFANA
Conductor: Juan Carlos Acosta
Audio & Video Editing by Rumley Music & Audio Production
The music and lyrics of We Have a Choice were composed as a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. The piece explores 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.
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.
Three Lullabies is a three-movement song cycle for Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, and Piano. This suite of lullabies is rhythmically, melodically, and harmonically accessible to children and would fit nicely into any classical concert for children or a younger audience.
The first song Nini Baba Nini, from the book The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye, is a sweet Hindi text that describes the happiness of being able to provide food, and thus sleep, for one’s child. The setting of this poem superimposes the English translation against the original Hindi text.
The second song Villanelle of Sunset is a text by Ernest Dowson. A villanelle is traditionally a nineteen-line poem containing only two rhymes, “rest” and “day” in this villanelle. The melody and accompaniment are reminiscent of an American folk tune to reflect the strong imagery of the West in the text.
The third song In the Morning sets the text written by Amy Gordon. The music is simple and gentle in order to lull a child to sleep, despite the difficult conditions in the outside world.
Continue reading Three Lullabies
The Traveler is an art song for Tenor (or possibly Baritone) and piano that explores the mindset of a traveler or vagabond as he or she explores the world. The text, also written by Amy Gordon, describes the traveler’s eternal struggle between calling somewhere home and an intense desire to be freely roam.Continue reading The Traveler