Notes

Kong-Yu Wong

Three Lyrics of Lu Fang Weng

Text by Lu You

…as a wayfarer in the world I have reached my old age…

…tomorrow I will ride on the wind regardless which direction it goes…

…I regret the shadows of flowers are too slight and the candle lights for my drawing room are too bright.

 

The lyrics by the 12th-century poet Lu You, whose pen name was Fang Weng, sound as intimate as if they were written yesterday. The longing, the joy, and the sorrow in the words affect the reader regardless of any boundary of time and place. I chose three of the lyrics to set to music; each is assigned a particular type of harmony, line, and texture. The piano solo then frames the choir at the beginning and the end. This work was written between 2009 and 2013 and it was my first choral work in the Chinese language.

— Kong-Yu Wong

 

 

Scott Anthony Shell

Gitanjali 1

Text by Rabindranath Tagore

Gitanjali 1 is set to a portion of the first poem from the collection of devotional poetry called Gitanjali by the mystic Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Fluent in English, the author also did his own English translation. In this piece, the text was converted slightly from the original which was set in old English, to make it easier to sing and understand.

 

The composition explores various counterpoint techniques including a brief fugue, following the feelings behind the text: joy, reverence, humility, awe, mystery, etc. The frequent alternations between major and minor modes help create a sense of ambiguity. — Scott Anthony Shell

 

Text:

You have made me endless, such is your pleasure. This frail vessel you empty

again and again, and fill it ever with fresh life.

 

This little flute of a reed you have carried over hills and dales, and have

breathed through it melodies eternally new.

 

At the immortal touch of your hands my little heart loses its limits in joy and

gives birth to utterance ineffable.

 

Your infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.

 

 

William Copper

Ave Regina Caelorum

Text by Anonymous

Ave regina caelorum,

Ave Domina angelorum.

 

Salve radix, salve porta,

Ex qua mundo lux est orta.

 

Gaude Virgo gloriosa,

Super omnes speciosa.

 

Vale O valde decora,

Et pro nobis Christum exora.

 

Literal translation:

Hail, queen of the heavens,

Hail, Lady of the angels.

 

Greet Thee, the Root, Greet Thee, the Door,

From whom to the world light is come.

 

Praise the Virgin glorious,

Over all beauteous.

 

Be well, o greatly comely,

And for us with Christ plead.

 

Photos from the recording session of Ave Regina Caelorum.

Deborah Anderson

Windows

Text by Michel Quoist

This work for women’s voices will leave a deep and lasting impression on the singers and the congregation. The simplicity of the music and the text touches the heart with its message. The text was written by a French priest; I used just a few lines from the English translation.

 

Colorado Prayer

Text by Barney C. Crockett

The inspiration for Colorado Prayer came from words written by the father of a friend of mine. From his home in Arkansas, Barney Crockett traveled in the early 1940’s to Colorado to attend a church camp. Being a minister, he was familiar with all the great old church hymns. The amazing beauty of Colorado led him to write new words to an old tune. I was given a copy of this version, and immediately felt drawn to compose an anthem using his words.

 

The unusual modulations in Colorado Prayer create a mood of the mystery and awe so often found in nature. The director, the pianist, and the singers should approach their interpretation of this piece with a sense of freedom to take it beyond what is written. — Deborah J. Anderson

 

God, our Creator, Builder of the mountain,

'Stablish our courage as the hills eternal.

Should care o'erwhelm us, may thy towers direct us,

O Lord, to Thee.

 

God, our Creator, Spirit of the river,

Cleanse our impurities by Thy living waters.

Freshen our spirits by Thy cooling showers.

O Lord, we wait on Thee.

 

God, our Creator, Ruler of the tempest,

Thy face the lightning and Thy voice the thunder:

Speak to our longings, satisfy our yearnings,

Hear us, O Father.

 

God, our Creator, from the highest heavens

Sun, moon and stars shine to illumine our pathway.

Be Thou our leader, give to us true wisdom,

So may we follow Thee.

 

— Barney C. Crockett (1996 - 1957)

 

 

Theresa Koon

Mother of Exiles

Adapted from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, 1883

 

 

The Statue of Liberty, with its famous inscription of Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus,” has been in the news a lot during the past year, including various reinterpretations of its significance. Originally, France offered the statue to commemorate the ending of the Civil War in the United States, proclaiming that only by prohibiting slavery had this country finally become a democracy. Lazarus expanded that sentiment in her sonnet, expressing gratitude on behalf of her Jewish ancestors who had escaped Russia during the pogroms. When the poem was inscribed on the Statue in New York Harbor after Lazarus’ death, both Lady Liberty and “The New Colossus” combined to represent the face and voice of US democracy, of freedom from slavery, and also as a welcome to desperate people in need of asylum. I believe the majority of Americans, despite our differences, still view the Statue of Liberty and her torch in this light, since most of us have ancestors who emigrated from somewhere else.

 

We are living at a time when immigration is a world-wide issue, which no one country can solve alone. To me, this is a delicate and complex situation that deserves compassionate consideration and collaboration. Since I don’t have the temperament or money for political campaigning, music is the vessel I can offer to give voice to the thoughts and feelings of people who have no voice in the world.

 

In working with the public domain text, I chose to set 11 of the 14 lines in Lazarus’ sonnet, which include those that are best-known. At the point when the text refers to the Statue as “Mother of Exiles,” I began overlapping translations of that name in 16 different languages, and also adopted it as the title of my choral version.

 

My dream is for Mother of Exiles to be performed by choirs around the world, with hopes that it will become an anthem for campaigns and organizations who believe in its purpose. If you are interested in furthering this mission, please visit tikkunmusic.com/mother-of-exiles

 

You can find out more about this project by visiting the following link: https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/mother-of-exiles/campaigns/3118

Theresa Koon

 

Mother of Exiles

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles.

 

Madre des exiliados, mére des exiles, Mutter der Verbannten,

mat' izgnannikov, madre di esuli, 'ama almunfiiyn, eksilens moder, muter fun exeylz, majka izgnanica, matka exulantů, mitéra exóriston, mama wa wahamisho, umama wabathunjwa, nirvaasan kee maan, Bōmei-sha no haha, ka makuahine o ka poʻe pio

 

From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome:

 

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

 

Hans Bakker

RAT - Counsel for male choir  TTBB, RAT - Counsel for mixed choir  SATB

Text by Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken (Bô Yin Râ)

After reading the original German text of “Rat” by the German painter and writer Joseph Anton Schneiderfranken in the edition of Kober Verlag, next to the equally catchy English translation “Counsel” in the bilingual edition of the The Standard-translation of the book "Showing the way" it occurred to me to put this learning poem to music for the benefit of the interested reader/singer/choir conductor.

 

Nimm dein Leben wie es ist!

Denke nicht: "So könnt' es sein."

Fluche keinem deiner Tage!

Was du tragen musst, ertrage!

Alles, was dir je begegnet,

Segne, und du wirst gesegnet!-

 

COUNSEL (In English)

Take your life as it is!
Think not: "It could be like this."

Curse none of your days!
Bear the things you must bear!

Everything that comes in your way,

Bless it, and you will be blessed!-

 

 

Ich habe den Menschen gesehen - I know the human being in its deepest  form

Text by Christian Morgenstern

I was struck by the profundity of this text by the German poet Christian Morgenstern. Various composing techniques were used in the music. The piece happened to be  finished exactly on Pentecost 2019.

 

Here is the original text: "Ich habe den Menschen gesehen in seiner tiefsten Gestalt, / ich kenne die Welt bis auf den Grundgehalt. / Ich weiss, dass Liebe, Liebe ihr tiefster Sinn / und dass ich da um immer mehr zu lieben, bin. / Ich breite die Arme aus, wie Er getan, / ich möchte die ganze Welt, wie Er, umfahn."

 

In English: 'I know the human being in its deepest form / I know the world down to the basics / I know that love, love is their deepest meaning / and that I am there to love more and more / I extend my arms as He did, / I would like to embrace the whole world like Him.'

— Hans Bakker

 

 

Santiago Kodela

The Gulag Within

Text by Santiago Kodela

The music and text of The Gulag Within was inspired by the tragic events that occurred in the infamous communist Soviet forced labor camp system, also known as Gulags, that took place in the Socialist Soviet Union throughout most of the 20th Century.

 

The events and accounts of what happened during this timeframe inspired the book “The Gulag Archipelago,” a book considered by many as one of the most important documents in helping to dissolve the Soviet Union. It was written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

 

The text of this piece was inspired by the author’s point of view of the political agenda and propagandistic paradigms of the Russian Soviet Union and the roles and responsibilities of ourselves at an individual level. The text dwells on the tragedies of life, the need to accept and face them with courage, humility, and integrity, and the importance of accepting that living a meaningful life is a responsibility at an individual level.

 

The music progresses slowly, in the same manner as the phases of acceptance a person experiences when dealing with a tragedy. It reflects these stages, makes one wonder, and invites one to reflect on the need to accept one’s fate. Am I doing the best to achieve that which I desire? Am I the best person to society I can be right now? Where am I falling short? Will I become responsible for my own reality?

 

The piece dwells on the importance of individuals in a society and the intrinsic value absolutely every person has within its community.

— Santiago Kodela

 

Look to the heavens

Clear its skies

Stare down this cold hell

Threatening black

Switch to the inside

All will reveal with time

As horrors stretch their hands to aid in treachery

We shall not succumb to temptation

Gaze at the lion

Fangs razor sharp

Confront the tyrant

Rival the foe that dwells and tempts us to false light

The abyss of the mind, endless

Abyss holding us down

Dim and blight

Cold, untrodden, winding

Culprit ridden

The abyss of the mind, endless

The abyss of the mind, let the light inside transcend with truth

For is the path to rid the being of suffering

Truth is transcendence

Transcend the vile

Horrors are dormant

Sleeping within

Coiled into strike

 

 

Christopher J. Hoh

Music at The Heart of Creation

Text by Barry E.B. Swain & Christopher J. Hoh

There is music at the heart of Creation; There is music at the heart of worship; There is music at the heart of God.

 

There’s no preaching in heaven; it’s not needed. There’s no social philanthropy there; it’s not needed. There’s no reading however refined.

In heaven, there’s no need.

 

Heaven needs no pastoral care;

Heaven needs not even Bible reading;

Heaven indeed endures without Higher Historical Criticism. Without a doubt, there’s no need.

 

There is music, etc.

 

Heaven, we know, is the presence of God.

In heaven the Maker is venerated.

And there, veneration is song:

Hymnus, decus, laus perennis, gratiarum actio.

There is music, etc.

 

(Hymn, honor, eternal praise, thanksgiving.)

 

Adapted by the composer from Rev. Canon Barry E.B. Swain, “Theology of Music,” New York, 2015. Used by permission.

Latin quotation from Aurellius Prudentius, “Corde Natus Ex Parentis,” Roman 5th century.

 

 

Garth Baxter

Still Falls the Rain

Still Falls the Rain is among Edith Sitwell’s best-known poems. It portrays the sorrow experienced during the German bombing campaign, known as the blitz, against the United Kingdom during the Second World War. There was such fear and suffering during that time. Yet with all the anguish and despair, Dame Edith Sitwell found words to lift the spirit and pay tribute to the enduring love of Christ. As with all of my choral works, my goal was to magnify those words and, in this case, to touch the soul with hope and love.

 

There is much imagery in the poem that draws on scripture, as well as the pain brought on by wars.  Even in turmoil, the ultimate sense is one of hope. It is the concluding part of the poem, where Christ expresses His continuing love for us, that most attracted me to this text by Sitwell. The final section, with the power of sound and voice, brings the sense of hope, love, and continuing faith in the face of heartache.

 

I wrote this piece for Dr. Margaret Boudreaux and the Masterworks Chorale of Carroll County, who performed and commissioned many of my choral works.

 

Still Falls the Rain

Still falls the Rain---
Dark as the world of man, black as our loss---
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross.

Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter's Field, and the sound of the impious feet

On the Tomb:
Still falls the Rain

In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain
Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain.

Still falls the Rain
At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.
Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us---
On Dives and on Lazarus:
Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.

Still falls the Rain---
Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man's wounded Side:
He bears in His Heart all wounds,---those of the light that died,
The last faint spark
In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark,
The wounds of the baited bear---
The blind and weeping bear whom the keepers beat
On his helpless flesh... the tears of the hunted hare.

Still falls the Rain---
Then--- O Ile leape up to my God: who pulles me doune---
See, see where Christ's blood streames in the firmament:
It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree

Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart
That holds the fires of the world,---dark-smirched with pain
As Caesar's laurel crown.

Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain---
"Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee."

 

— Dame Edith Sitwell

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