Vow

November 22, 2008

SSA with two soloists and drum. The most powerful piece I’ve ever heard about standing up to domestic violence. I take little claim for the piece; it came to me almost fully formed and I just fleshed it out. It’s a hard-driving critique of violence from all perspectives, centered around the vow itself:

I swear by the Earth and all I hold dear, / I will not stand by and watch this slaughter; / I will intervene, I’ll stand in your way; / You will not strike your sistah, your wife, a-your daughter! /

Must have two power soloists and an ensemble ready to go the emotional distance. Has received a standing ovation at every performance.

One version available on CD: The Indianapolis Women’s Chorus’ To Sing Is To Fly at Amazon.

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Interlude

November 22, 2008

Five-part, contemplative, gentle piece on open syllables. Minor key, about two-three minutes long, sort of an Enya sound.


Revenge On The Second Sopranos

November 22, 2008

SSA. I composed this after the mezzos in the Bloomington Feminist Chorus told me to “write a song around A, we like that note.” The piece is actually killer for the First Sopranos, with leaps and jumps to impossible intervals. The mezzos stay on A throughout the whole thing. A completely discordant piece with almost all the lyrics beginning with “S.” Very silly; it includes various asides to the audience and ends with the last few bars of the Hallelujah Chorus. I dare you to sing this.


Laima’s Hymn

November 22, 2008

SSA with soprano descant. Melody: Russian folksong “The Pear Tree.” English lyrics inspired by Latvian dainas in honor of Laima, daughter of the Sun. 3/4 time but not a waltz; gentle and very lovely. About a spiritual journey: at first Laima seems to have disappeared, but then the singer realizes She’s been there all along.


We Are Going

November 22, 2008

Call-and-response folksong. This song came to me in a dream. In the dream, Kaia was sharing its collective grief over the devastation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In our minds was the story I’d heard in the waking world the night before, told by Cameron Diaz during a national fund-raising telethon. In The Exodus from New Orleans post-Katrina, reporters came across a six-year-old boy with a baby in his arms. Behind him were five children, the youngest hardly old enough to walk. They all were holding hands, walking down the road together. The kids were relatives and friends of each other and had no idea where their parents were. But they were walking out of New Orleans, heading away from apocalypse and towards the unknown. The good news is all the children were reunited with their parents. That haunting image of what it took for those children to do that was very much present in our minds in the dream as we sang.

A postscript: The week we debuted this piece, the last Katrina orphan was reunited with her family.


Rise In Love

November 22, 2008

7-part arrangement. Ysaye M. Barnwell/Sweet Honey in the Rock, 2008. I fell in love with this powerful examination of September 11th upon first hearing. But I also felt that the lyrics were too academic and the style didn’t unleash the power of inner song. But who the heck am I to question Sweet Honey?? With much humility, I arranged this seven-voice version in an En Vogue-influenced style. Lead trio of women’s voice, an “angel trio” of women’s voices, and a rockin’ bass that should probably be sung by tenors instead of altos.


I Will (No Man’s Land)

November 22, 2008

6-part arrangement. Radiohead. An adaptation from Radiohead’s brilliant tune on Hail To The Thief. I’ve had several people say they like this a cappella version better than Radiohead’s original. (I love them both, so take it for what it’s worth.) High soprano must be capable of sustained, legato high tones.