Commissioned by the Santa Fe Women's Ensemble.
When I was asked to write a commissioned piece for the
Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble I was determined to write something
very special for the group, as they had been so kind as to
present other pieces of mine on a number of earlier programs. I
have always loved New Mexico, and decided that I would try to
write a piece for them that would have a specifically New Mexico
flavor. I eventually found and read many poems by New Mexico
poets and settled on works by Miriam Sagen, Lonnie Howard, and
the late Elizabeth Searle Lamb. Eventually I realized that if I
used all of the poems I had selected by these three wonderful
writers it would create a piece that might be too long and
unwieldy, so I reluctantly dropped the long Sagen poem and all
but one of the beautiful haiku by Lamb. I hope to set
Miriam Sagen’s poetry in the near future and will also look at
more of Elizabeth Lamb’s poetry as well.
texts are about the winter solstice in New Mexico, a very
special time and place. They are not Christmas texts, yet the
passing of the winter solstice is, of course, often associated
with the Christmas hope of renewal. What I have tried to write,
with these poems as inspiration, is “night music”, a genre which
I have always loved. Also, while the landscapes are New Mexican,
I hope that the beauty of the texts and the winter solstice
theme will still attract interest from choir directors and
audiences in the larger choral world.
Along with these enchanting texts, I have
also tried to create some further magic by the use of small bell
tones as the piece draws to a conclusion. Since the premiere is
to be in the intimate Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe with its famous
miraculous staircase, I felt that a little extra magic would be
a nice touch for the audiences at the premiere performances. So
as the piece ends there are to be very subtle little bells rung
or shaken, just a few tones at first, and a slight buildup, and
then a fading away.
Sherri, Aidan, and I had a great time in
Santa Fe during the week of the premiere with our hosts Linda
and Jim Beck. Aidan especially enjoyed our own little casita
with all its little pathways -- what a magical week! We also
met Natalie Goldberg, who now lives in Santa Fe, and whose
poetry I have set to music (My Friend Elijah, and Into
this World) and really had a great time getting to know the
main poet for this piece, Lonnie Howard. Lonnie's energy was so
warm and positive -- just a wonderful person in so many ways.
Complete perusal score available upon request.
Recent News: Women's Choir to Visit
The Saint Mary's College Women's Choir
plans to visit China during the 2011 spring break. They have
been invited by the Nanjing Arts Institute in Nanjing China to
work with the school's well-known women's choir under the
direction of Dixian Teng. The two choirs will present several
concerts together. Laurel Thomas and Nancy Menk will present
master classes in singing and conducting for the Chinese
students. A visit to Shanghai is also planned.
The Santa Fe audience thrilled at the music by Paul Carey that
used a text by Santa Fe poet Lonnie Howard. As we were gathered
in the beautiful Loretto Chapel for concerts, the full moon had
risen outside and all the specific images [of the poetry] of
Santa Fe warmed our hearts. Paul's music is highly evocative and
surrounds the listener with exquisite beauty. Check out this
piece and see how it would translate to your winter experience.
Linda Raney, artistic
director, Sante Fe Women's Ensemble
I would like to say... how much we enjoyed your wonderful
It was luminous, and lush, and evoked such wonderful imagery.
You managed to create an almost tangible atmosphere where the
singer and listener were able to experience the "iris bulbs
buried in red earth" and "black bear sleeping" or "a string of
colored prayer flags..." I haven't seen the music for over a
year, [yet] I can still recall those beautiful melodic phrases
and the words.
Beck, member of the
Santa Fe Women's Ensemble, also a published composer and member