Treble (SA) / piano
Secular Christmas text in English by E. E. Cummings
Difficulty rating (1-5): 3
Performed by the
This piece was commissioned by
the very talented
Mary Alice Stollak, director emeritus of the
Michigan State University Children's Choir.
Since I was given free rein on this piece, there were a few givens
in my mind:
1) I knew I could write music that would challenge if I cared to
2) I also knew their pianist, Judy Kabodian, is phenomenal and could
handle anything I cared to write in the piano part. So the real task
was to find a truly special holiday, or Christmas, text.
Having grown a bit tired of the usual fare of Baby Jesus in the
cradle, the animals in the stable, and so on, I came across E.E.
Cummings delightful little tree.
Told from the point of view of perhaps an eight or ten year old, the
text is a whilrwind of holiday excitement, with moments of
tenderness interspersed. With this gem of a text, I decided to
create the feel of holiday hustle and bustle and paint the
excitement of children during the holiday season by writing a very
busy, clangy, polytonal piano part, with a shimmer of half-pedalling,
along with choral stretto passages bouncing about. When I first
heard Mary Alice perform this piece (with her high school select
treble group) at the 2005 Michigan ACDA Fall Convention, the Allegro
sections felt like the rush of riding a roller coaster about to
careen off the tracks. I think she actually took an even quicker
tempo than marked and the result was fabulous. And of course the
slower, lyrical passages were caressed lovingly as is always the
case with Mary Alice's choirs (can you tell I am a big fan of
When we showed the piece to Barbara Harlow at Santa Barbara Music
Publishing, she gave it a very quick stamp of approval. I hope this
piece can find its way into the repertoire of treble choirs looking
for something new and exciting for their holiday concerts.
little tree little silent Christmas tree you are so little you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest and were you very sorry to come away? see i will comfort you because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss you cool bark and hug you safe and tight just as your mother would, only don't be afraid
look the spangles that sleep all the year in a dark box dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine, the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms and i'll give them all to you to hold every finger shall have its ring and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed you'll stand in the window for everyone to see and how they'll stare! oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands and looking up at our beautiful tree we'll dance and sing "noel noel"