A Glee for Winter (2012)

 
Conductor Caroline Crocker at the premiere

Conductor Caroline Crocker at the premiere

For SATB Chorus and piano

2'00"

score excerpt

Text:
Alfred Donett (1811-1887)

HENCE, rude Winter! crabbed old fellow,
Never merry, never mellow!
Well-a-day! in rain and snow
What will keep one's heart aglow?
Groups of kinsmen, old and young,
Oldest they old friends among;
Groups of friends, so old and true
That they seem our kinsmen too;
These all merry all together
Charm away chill Winter weather.

What will kill this dull old fellow?
Ale that's bright, and wine that's mellow!
Dear old songs for ever new;
Some true love, and laughter too;
Pleasant wit, and harmless fun,
And a dance when day is done.
Music, friends so true and tried,
Whisper'd love by warm fireside,
Mirth at all times all together,
Make sweet May of Winter weather.


Program notes:

I composed A Glee for Winter in November 2012 for a competition seeking original choral music celebrating the joys of wintertime. I was delighted by the rather antique-sounding, "fluffy" text that nevertheless shows that holiday parties have changed little since the mid-19th century, and I strived in my music to pay homage to both the joy of a wintertime celebration and the slightly maudlin mood of the poem. I used shifting time signatures and an energetic piano accompaniment to add pep and forward momentum to the text, and incorporated several tempo changes calibrated to bring out the melodrama of the poem (and especially its surprisingly heartfelt ending). I also added some tongue-in-cheek stylistic references to highlight some of the more archaic passages.