From the Ninth Elegy (2008)
SSSAAATTTBBB (12-part chamber choir)
5 min. 30 sec.
text by Rainer Maria Rilke; translated by Graham Good
- selected for reading by musica intima at the Vancouver Public Library, 10 January, 2009
- performed by musica intima at Sonic Boom Festival, Western Front, Vancouver, 21 March 2009
- performed by DaCapo Chamber Choir in Kitchener, ON, 27 February 2010
The inspiration for this piece came in equal parts from the 1987 Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire (Der Himmel Über Berlin), and from my maternal grandmother, Gudrun Joensen, who passed away in 2006. Wings of Desire appealed to me in its imagery and thematic use of angels existing alongside “earthly” beings; the film is based on the writings of poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). The text of my piece is taken from Rilke’s Ninth Duino Elegy, which speaks of the transience of being ‘earthly’, and yet that the fact of having existed once on this earth is irrevocable. Ever since my grandmother passed away, I had been looking for an opportunity to incorporate her essence somehow into one of my compositions. She was a very gentle person, hence the whispered, hushed quality of the beginning of the piece. The very end of the piece uses a quotation of a Danish lullaby she used to sing. From the Ninth Elegy was written specifically for musica intima (12-voice conductorless chamber choir), and given its premiere on 21 March, 2009, as part of Vancouver Pro Musica’s Sonic Boom Festival, at the Western Front, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
But because being here means so much, and because
all of the transient things that are here
seem to need us…
They need us- us, the most transient.Once
for each thing, just once. Once and no more.
Just once for us too… But having been
earthly just this once, even though
it was only once, seems irrevocable.
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), translated by Graham Good
In the Grass (2005)
SSSAAA women's choir
6 min. 30 sec.
text by Ethelwyn Wetherald
- performed by UBC Women’s Choir at UBC Recital Hall, 17 March, 2006
- read by Elektra Women’s Choir, 19 February, 2007
La banqueroute (2005)
TTBB men's choir, plus two tenor soloists
text- trad. French-Canadian
- read by Chor Leoni Men’s Choir at New Compositions Workshop, 18 January, 2006
A Light exists in Spring (2004)
SSAATTBB mixed choir
This piece takes its text from a poem of the same name by 19thC American poet, Emily Dickinson. It draws upon the ideas of prismic light and colour– light waves, as well as the idea of sound waves, in the form of bell-sounds created by the human voice.
“At a suitable distance, church bells could be powerfully evocative, for the strident noises of their clappers are lost and they are given a legato phrasing which wind currents or water will modulate dynamically… Perhaps no sound benefits more from distance and atmosphere.” -R. Murray Schafer, from The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World (1977).
A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period–
When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.
Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the formula of sound
It passes and we stay–
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
A Vagabond Song (2003)
SATB mixed choir
text by Bliss Carman
- winner of West Coast Amateur Music Society competition, 2004
- winner of Association of Canadian Women Composers’ choral composing competition, 2005
- performed by DaCapo Chamber Choir at Open Ears Festival, Kitchener, Ontario, 1 May 2005
- performed by Massey Choir, at Massey College, University of Toronto, Ontario, 22 November, 2008
- performed by Northern Lights Chamber Choir, Armstrong, B.C., 29 February, 2012; Salmon Arm, B.C., 2 & 4 March, 2012; Sorrento, B.C., 11 March, 2012
This piece was based upon a poem of the same name by Canadian maritime poet, Bliss Carman. It is a celebration of the vibrant colours and free-spirited feeling that the autumn season can evoke.
There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood.
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.
The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.
There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir:
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill aflame
She calls each vagabond by name.
Bliss Carman (1861-1929)
Acquainted With the Night (2003)
TTBB men's choir
3 min. 45 sec.
text by Robert Frost
- read by Chor Leoni Men’s Choir at New Compositions Workshop, 26 February, 2003