SATB Choir and Wind Tentet
8 min duration
Text: Marjorie Pickthall
Published by Plangere Editions Toronto
Commissioned by Exultate Chamber Singers and Toronto Winds. Premiered April 2018, Toronto, Hilary Apfelstadt conductor.
2 french horns
Resurgam [I Shall Rise] Marjorie Pickthall.
from the Selected Poems of Marjorie Pickthall 1883-1922. In public domain.
I shall say, Lord, “Is it music, is it morning,
Song that is fresh as sunrise, light that sings?”
When on some hill there breaks the immortal warning Of half-forgotten springs.
I shall say, Lord, “I have loved you, not another, Heard in all quiet your footsteps on my road, Felt your strong shoulder near me, O my brother, Lightening the load.”
I shall say, Lord, “I remembered, working, sleeping, One face I looked for, one denied and dear.
Now that you come my eyes are blind with weeping, But you will kiss them clear.”
I shall say, Lord, “Touch my lips, and so unseal them; I have learned silence since I lived and died.”
I shall say, Lord, “Lift my hands, and so reveal them, Full, satisfied.”
I shall say, Lord, “We will laugh again tomorrow, Now we’ll be still a little, friend with friend. Death was the gate and the long way was sorrow. Love is the end.”
Resurgam is a blending of styles and traditions. This work combines instruments and voices in many ways and archetypes. At times, the instruments provide harmonic and melodic support for the voices, and at other times, the instruments take on the melodic forefront while the voices drone, echo or provide harmonic support in the background.
I attempt to blend ideas of Renaissance polyphonic writing and polychoral styles alongside more traditional Classical homophonic chorale-like textures. Resurgam combines these traditions with innovation by writing with contemporary melodic gestures featuring large leaps, angular passages, diatonic dissonance, unresolved dissonances and chromatic writing while still maintaing a singable and tuneful composition.
The form of the work follows the form of the poem; each stanza has a unique ‘I Shall Say Lord” motive which is varied and used throughout the composition. This opening gesture is followed by a chorale-like setting of the remainder of the stanza. In between each stanza is a interlude which predominately features instrumental passages. The middle a cappella section gives way to the climax of the composition with a single clarinet connecting the sections. Here the full ensemble joins together in melodic ideas and fragmentation of previous musical material. Resurgam slowly closes in a calm, reflective ethos.
I am biased, having done the premiere, but this is a wonderful piece of music, written to highlight both voices and instruments. The singers loved working on it and were delighted to sing it with Toronto Winds.