SATB a cappella
Secular text in English by Jane Kenyon Difficulty rating (1-5): 3
This piece is dedicated
to Sherri’s friend, Leslie Marino, who suggested that I read
some of Jane Kenyon’s poetry. Jane Kenyon was just beginning
to write poems of great spirituality and beauty when she
died of leukemia at the age of 48. This poem’s greatness
lays in the power of its imagery, and also in the fact that
it will probably hold a slightly different interpretation
for each person who reads it.
My interpretation, and
one which I try to imply musically, is that the “It”, (it is
interesting than Kenyon decided not to just say “God” here-
though certainly It” can mean “God” for many readers), is
actually always present, and it is our own limitations or
inattention that makes it seem as though “It” enters or
exits during our lives, or only enters briefly. In other
words, I take her title as being a red herring--
whether she meant it as one or not, I can’t say. Musically,
there is a very soft, held D, which, in a sense, represents
the presence of “It”, and which colors the harmonies of the
music moving around it. I toyed with having this held pitch
present throughout the entire piece, but decided against it.
First of all, it seemed too simplistic and pedantic, as if I
had to force my interpretation on all the singers and
audience, and secondly, perhaps because it might be annoying
to listen to all the way through!
This piece will be
premiered in June 2006 by a new consortium of young
composers and conductors in New York City called C4,
conducted by Joy Chia.
Complete perusal score available upon request.
I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years . . .
I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper
. . .
When the young girl who starves
sits down at a table
she will sit beside me . . .
I am food on the prisoner's plate . . .
I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills . . .
I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden . . .
I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge . . .
I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest . . .
I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow . . .
I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit .
I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name . . .
click for audio "C4" directed by Jonathan David; Recorded live
June 9, 2006