Peace (A Love Song) (2015)


For unaccompanied SATB Chorus


Commissioned by:
The Six Degree Singers (Silver Spring, MD) / Rachel Carlson, Artistic Director

Premiere and recording source:
The Six Degree Singers (Silver Spring, MD) / Rachel Carlson, Artistic Director
Trinity Lutheran Church, North Bethesda, MD
May 30, 2015

score excerpt

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933), from Love Songs (1917)

Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine evermore,
It will not ebb like the sea.
I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.
I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies −
You are my deepening skies:
Give me your stars to hold.

Program notes:

To me, this poem expresses a beautiful blend of gratitude, reverence and openness that is often hard to find in a non-sacred context. To complement the water imagery pervasive in this poem – "flows," "tide," "ebb," "sea," "pool" – I composed a very legato setting of the text that is firmly tonal and melodic, but shifts continuously and quietly through a variety of key centers. The main melody line moves subtly from vocal part to vocal part throughout the piece, between phrases and sometimes within a single phrase. The dynamic swells and ebbs are meant to enhance this setting’s liquid, smooth quality, especially in conjunction with phrases that alternate in length to give the illusion of flowing waves on a beach. I also decided to challenge myself in this setting to use quartal harmonies as a recurring motive throughout the piece, and to generate a lush sound world while still including as much silence as possible.

I am most grateful to Rachel Carlson, Six Degrees Singers’ Artistic Director, for suggesting this text and for her help and attention to detail in bringing it to life, and to my friend and Six Degrees Singers baritone Andy Goldman for championing my work.