Instrumentation: SSA Chorus, String Quartet (optional), Piano
Commission: Voorhees Choir for the Centennial of Douglass College
The Voorhees Choir, conducted by Brandon Williams; Voorhees Chapel, Douglass College; New Brunswick, NJ
I composed ‘Tis You, a setting of Amy Lowell’s poem, Listening, for the Centennial of Douglass College, my Alma Mater. Created for the Voorhees Choir,originally the women’s chorus of Douglass College (now of Rutgers University), the premiere took place on 12/2/17 during the Choir’s fall concert, and on 12/3/17 during the Yule Log Ceremony at the Voorhees Chapel on the Douglass campus. Long a fan of Lowell’s poetry, I found this one in An Anthology of Great U.S. Women Poets 1850-1990. I love the way the poem speaks of the internal music of our beings, the meaning of our individual contributions, and also of our role in the larger ocean of life. Brandon Williams, conductor of the Voorhees Choir, requested a version for treble chorus, string quartet and piano; I have also composed a version for treble chorus and piano.
by Amy Lowell
‘Tis you that are the music, not your song.
The song is but a door which, opening wide,
Lets forth the pent-up melody inside,
Your spirit’s harmony, which clear and strong
Sings but of you. Throughout your whole life long
Your songs, your thoughts, your doings, each divide
This perfect beauty; waves within a tide,
Or single notes amid a glorious throng.
The song of earth has many different chords;
Ocean has many moods and many tones
Yet always ocean. In the damp Spring woods
The painted trillium smiles, while crisp pine cones
Autumn alone can ripen. So is this
One music with a thousand cadences.