Excerpt of ‘Tis You from the premiere performance by the Voorhees Choir, conducted by Brandon Williams
Instrumentation: SSA divisi, string quartet & piano
Also available for SSA divisi & piano
Commission: Voorhees Choir for the Centennial of Douglass College
The Voorhees Choir, conducted by Brandon Williams
Voorhees Chapel, Douglass College
New Brunswick, NJ
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I composed ‘Tis You, a setting of Amy Lowell’s poem, Listening, for the Centennial of Douglass College, my Alma Mater. My music studies at Douglass, in particular with Professors Robert Lincoln and James Scott at Douglass, and composer Robert Moevs at Rutgers College, started me on my path as a composer. While there, I presented the first composition recital in the school’s history. This inspiring experience confirmed me in my strong, if naïve, desire to pursue composition as my life’s work. Created for Voorhees Choir, which I sang in as an undergraduate (1967-71), 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. Long a fan of Lowell’s poetry, I decided to set ‘Listening.’ The poem speaks beautifully of the internal music of our beings, the meaning of our individual contributions, and also our role in the larger ocean of life. The original was scored for SSA divisi, string quartet and piano at the request of Brandon Williams, the conductor of the Voorhees Choir. It is also available for SSA divisi and piano. –JS
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.