SSA and Piano
Text by Marjorie Pickthall
4 min duration
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Commissioned by the Oriana Choir of Toronto, Mitchell Pady.
“Snow Dreams” aims to capture the magic and peacefulness of snow; how it falls, how it silences the landscape, how it reflects light and how it encapsulates time and place. The work is almost bare, only a faint framework of pitches from the piano lay underneath long beautiful melodies from the singers as if a still frozen landscape unfolds. Defenseless trees stand waiting to bare the weight of tiny flakes; Pickthall equates each flake to white flowers ready to bloom, inspire and enwrap. The first two stanzas of the poem are musically set in a similar way using a “verse-chorus” form from popular music. The final stanza is set in a more delicate, floating style.
O, The white flowers,
How they float, how they follow
Down from the hillside and up from the hollow. When the wind calls them they answer in showers, So shining, so tender,
Rose-rounded and leaf-slender,
They ring me, they wreathe me wherever I go.
O, the white flowers,
The flowers of the snow.
O, the white stars,
They have dawned, they have drifted
Like dust the wind strawed and the Mary-moon sifted, Through the briar-berry bent to the cedar-wood bars.
So soft, so unbounded.
They have clung, they have swung where the branches are low. O, the white stars,
The stars of the snow.
O, the white dreams,
How they kiss, how they quiver,
The weft of the cloud and the woof of the river,
Where the elder-tree shadows the sleep of her streams.
They lead me, they linger,
Frost-foot and mist-finger,
Saying, Hands, would you hold us, and Heart, would you know All the white dreams,
The dreams of the snow?