Since 1994 I have had an on-going association with the city of Galway in Ireland. Initially this was through the Cois Cladaigh Chamber Choir which presented a concert of works of mine in that year, and has subsequently performed and recorded other pieces. Another choir in the city that has included my music in their repertoire was the NUIG Choral Society under the direction of Peter Mannion. This university choir had sung my Nunc Dimittis at a competition in 2005 and the conductor was keen to have something new for their next year’s repertoire. He asked if I might consider a new setting of the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father who art in heaven…), but setting the text in Irish.
The opening section, marked ‘serenely, with great spaciousness’, establishes the tonic key of D major securely. The music unfolds from an initial unison D, through simple tonal chords set against an on-going D in the 1st altos. The remainder of the work is largely chordal, using relatively simple tonal chords centred on the key of D major. The scoring is for unaccompanied SSAATB voices.
This short work was written for Jennifer Murray who, with her church-based youth choirs in Christchurch, had been a long-time supporter of my choral music. The text is a short traditional Afro-American spiritual text about the Old Testament character Daniel. The music is lively and harmonically quite simple.
This setting completes a quartet of pieces written in early 2005 which set traditional Afro-American spiritual texts. Each is for a different combination of voices, here SSATB choir is accompanied by a player on congas. The music uses typical melodic and rhythmic ideas from the Afro-American gospel/spiritual tradition. The text is an extended plea to God to not be forgotten, when in trouble, or when dying, or when the world is consumed by fire.
This brief elegy was written a few months after the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, in which so many lost their lives. Over the gently rocking figures of the viola and cello are heard the more impassioned lines of the violins; these seem to chase after one another before the piece comes to a quiet close. Composed for the Auckland Philharmonia Ensemble Philharmonia concerts, where it received its first performance in November 2006.
This is the third of 3 spirituals written early in 2005 with secondary school choirs in mind. Each takes a text from the Afro-American tradition of spirituals and sets it in a style suggestive of that tradition. The other two works are ‘Sunday Morning Band’ and ‘Witness for my Lord’. As with the other pieces written around the same time, the voicing here is aimed at developing choirs or choirs with limited resources, in this case three part male voices rather than the more common TTBB layout. A solo bass (or baritone) voice takes a significant role in the piece, with the choir parts remaining fairly repetitive from verse to verse. After a slightly slower introduction, the music is underpinned by a strongly rhythmic piano part throughout. The text talks of joining a band, the band of those who belong to God. There are references to typical images of the spirituals, the Jordan river, Joshua’s well-known battle, and Galilee.
“a Burt Bacharach-styled jazz ballad, performed to a blues tinged cafe piano with a pick of kiwi cliches as hymn words – a nice touch!”
Extract from a review of a performance of this piece on the CD “Spirited People” by the Festival Singers of Wellington.
This is a contemporary folk hymn calling for us to allow God some space in our busy lives. Suitable fro unison singing but also arranged for SATB. Simple piano can be elaborated. Other instruments eg guitar, bass, drums optional.
This short work is part of an on-going attempt to create a useful body of works for SAB choirs in schools. Many developing and smaller choirs do not have sufficient male voices to form a full SATB choir, so there is a demand for works for mixed voices but with only one male voice line. This piece sets a traditional Afro-American spiritual text in a lively setting.