What fun to hear the rehearsal of “Songs from a Quaker Heart” last night. This new music SATB chorus and piano is getting its premiere by the Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus, who commissioned it.
The poems are by Marian Kaplun Shapiro, a fellow resident of Lexington, MA. So many of Marian’s poems are direct observation of the little things happening all around us. She juxtaposes these little things in startling ways, and I feel enlightened, just a little, by the interesting and emotionally laden comparisons.
Challenges of one poem
For example, consider her poem “Spring Sunlight”. The downward/upward motion of each comparison intrigues me. She’s encapsulated the idea of positive/negative and growth/decay in just a few words.
by Marian Kaplun Shapiro
Green leaves growing
me. You sleeping.
But each line is so short!, and the contrasts need to confront each other. It took me a while to find a musical treatment lasting longer than 30 seconds. My setting dwells on each pair of contrasts, developing a mood and texture for each pair. Then there’s a shape-shifting in the last two lines as the rhythm changes and the action spills into the last line, which I highlight with a surprise chord change.
Five poems for five choral settings
The five movements of “Songs from a Quaker Heart” (with quotes from the poems) are:
- Quaker Meeting – “Quiet. Door open. Bird sings…”
- Life, In Conjunction – “and but why …”
- Leaves – “parachuting through the cross-winds of autumn…”
- Spring Sunlight – “Green leaves growing…”
- House Oratorio – “…It’s our time at last, sings Refrigerator…”
Emotional ups and downs
In November, I was deeply into memories of my father when Triad performed Deepest Shade, my reaction to his increasing dementia back in 2010.
For December, I’m offering music from a delightfully brighter place, still rich with a range of life experiences. But much happier!
The concert is Sunday December 4, 2016 at 3:30pm at Payson Park Church, 365 Belmont St, Belmont, MA 02478.
The Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus is directed by Barry Singer.