A Snowy Day (SA with piano)
My Labrador Rug (SSAA with optional piano)
Hush (A Lullaby) (SSA with piano)
Dream River (SA with piano)
Fireweed (SA with piano)
O Wind, What Saw You? (SSA with optional Bb uilleann pipes)
Stars (SSAA a cappella)
The Lamp of Poor Souls (SSA with piano and optional Cor Anglais)
Thoughts (SSA with soloists and percussion)
In the Gardens of Shushan (SSAA with piano)
To Timarion (SSAA and soloist with piano)
Laudate Dominum (SSSAAA, a cappella)
The Wife (SSA with viola and cello soloists)
Quiet (SSA with strings and harp)
Totus Tuus (SA with organ)
Shanty in the Straw (TTBB, soloists, button accordion and bodhrán)
ACCESSIBLE FOR CHILDREN'S CHOIR
A Snowy Day (SA with piano) PubLink
Rhythmic Trident Music Publishing, RTCA-014, 2007
elodic and rhythmic treatment of the imaginative text, with little chromatic passages and twisty turns, is offset by a floating descending descant line above. It is supported and enhanced by a well-crafted piano accompaniment.
My Labrador Rug (SSAA with optional piano) PubLink SoundCloud
Rhythmic Trident Music Publishing, RTCA-015, 2007
The text to striking piece exquisitely captures the spirit of the Grenfell “Industrial” Mission hooked mats initiative of Newfoundland and Labrador in the early part of the 20th Century, penned in the vivid colours and imagery of the land and sea and painted in simple yet rich harmonic brush strokes.
Hush (A Lullaby) (SSA with piano) PubLink
Kelman Hall Music Publishing, 07/2056
Cypress Choral Music, KH-046, 2020
Dream River (SA with piano) SoundCloud
An accessible "choral-pop" song in two parts with well-crafted melodies utilizing repeated motifs with both disjunct and step-wise motion. The voices are supported harmonically by a simple, yet largely independent, piano accompaniment with a flowing left-hand arpeggiated movement.
Fireweed (2-part treble with piano) SoundCloud
commissioned by the Fireweed Children's Chorus, Yellowknife, NT
A reduced harmonic palette with a focus on singable melodies in unison, canonic and 2-part contrapuntal singing for young treble choral voice parts. The voices are supported by a complementary, yet largely independent, piano accompaniment. The lyrics were developed by Gail Sidonie Sobat with contributions from the choristers of the chorus themselves.
O Wind, What Saw You? (SSA with optional Bb uilleann pipes)
Notes: I have changed 3 words from the original for reasons I’ll explain here. First, I changed “first-born” to “new-born” simply because it sings better. Secondly, I altered “maiden” to “matron” because I felt that the poem benefits from a story-line that embodies only one character (the maiden cannot be the mother in the previous verse) and I think one can respond to the lamentable progression of love, motherhood, betrayal and death. And finally, I changed “a dead” to “ghostly” again because it sings better, is softer in textual intonation and it pairs nicely with the word “haunted” in the previous verse.
Invokes the magic and mystery of the celestial. Works well in a live and reverberant acoustic.
The Lamp of Poor Souls (SSA with piano and optional Cor Anglais) YouTube
In many English churches before the Reformation there was kept a little lamp continually burning, called the Lamp of Poor Souls. People were reminded to pray for the souls of those dead whose kinsfolk were too poor to pay for prayers and masses. Includes spoken word and the option of including candles and LED lights.
Charming poetry, with opportunities for multiple soloists, a call and response structure which includes improvised percussion offset by a chorus of vocalised homophony. Here the poet ruminates on the distinct nature of “thoughts” and the very personal relationship with her own. She offers them exotic gifts, housing, and even tries to vainly dismiss them - yet they dain to be mute to her alone. Her voice is represented by the soloists who animate and “improvise” her words (the call) alternating with the chorus (the response) that returns only an un-articulated vocalization to her supplication.
errata: the first verse should read:
"I gave my thoughts a golden peach ..."
CHALLENGING REPERTOIRE and/or REQUIRES EXTRA RESOURCES
It is written in the Book of Esther that King Ahasuerus presided over a great feast at his palace at Shushan in ancient Persia. It was on the 7th day, after much merriment and wine, that he called upon his chamberlains to fetch his Queen, Vashti, from the royal gardens to appear before him and his guests to “display her beauty”. Vashti refused. Fearful that her actions would arouse the disobedience of the other women towards their husbands, and upon suffering his own royal embarrassment, the King had Vashti exiled or possibly even executed. In modern interpretations her name stands for many as a symbol of resistance to gendered oppression.
To Timarion (SSAA and soloist with piano) YouTube
Cypress Choral Music, CP-1866, 2020
To Timarion is an exquisite expression of unconsummated ardour. It is heartache - desire - unworthiness - and hope - hope that one day a concealed and forbidden love may be illuminated from the shadows of remembrance. It is meant to be sung not with despair, but with a rapturous intimacy. Timarion appears in the amatory epigrams collected by Meleager of Gadara in and about the 1st century. It was said that her beauty captured the affections of Eros himself. As hetaera, it is likely that she was trained to play the lyre or harp, an impression that is imitated in the piano accompaniment. The melody itself is built upon the heptatonic phrygian major scale, which with its striking bII and raised 3rd (and alluring occasional raised 7th) is reminiscent of Middle Eastern sonorities.
Laudate Dominum (SSSAAA a cappella) SoundCloud
Laudate Dominum is an anthem for a large ensemble of women’s voices in 6 equal parts. It is a tightly woven tapestry of harmonic textures animated by variations in vocal colouring.
The Wife (SSA with viola and cello soloists) SoundCloud-OMMU
Much has been written by MLCP on the silencing of the woman’s voice in a pre-suffrage patriarchal society in which she worked and lived. Here too is a haunting example — the betrayed woman, who in life remained unheeded by her spouse, now whispers her reproach in the quiet - unhindered - from beyond the grave. Husband and wife are forever bound for good and ill, till death do they NOT part.
Musically speaking, the cello represents the husband’s voice while the viola vocalises for the wife. Sometimes bound together, sometimes in misstep and discord, the strings maintain their own dialogue while the treble voices (representing all women) homophonically recount the narrative above. The viola’s voice soars alone on page 8, mirrored on the page as is MLCP’s original published in The Woodcarver’s Wife (1919), within the coffin-bound confine of an abbreviated rectangular layout.
Quiet (SSA with strings and harp and opt. Horn) SoundCloud-OMMU
Here, “in the immortal empire of the grasses”, Marjorie is in quiet contemplation - grave-side. It is not clear if this is the plot of someone she knows, but based on previous writings of this nature it may very well relate to her mother’s resting place. This proposed scenario would be somewhat ironic, in that it would be Marjorie’s ultimate fate to be buried with her mother in St. James Cemetery in Toronto the same year this volume of verse was published.
Totus Tuus (SA with organ)
Commissioned by St. Michael’s Choir School
This text is excerpted from the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis de Monfort, a text discovered and published posthumously. It is considered to be perfect in its understandings and devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus. This Latin consecrating prayer, two phrases of which are suggested to be recited before communion, was a favourite of the late Pope John Paul II, the phrase Totus Tuus becoming his apostolic motto. This setting was commissioned by my alma mater, St. Michael’s Choir School, for their Intermediate Choir.
Shanty in the Straw (TTBB, soloists, with tin whistle or button accordion and bodhrán)
The Shanty, notably the Sea Shanty, has a long and storied tradition. These are work songs, used to synchronize laborious group tasks such as hauling and heaving heavy lines and sails on merchant ships of olde. A ‘shanty-man’ would initiate and improvise melodies to which the men would respond in kind. Often the words conveyed no particular meaning - nor were they necessarily coherent. When off the watch, sailors may have gathered at the forecastle to regale each other in song and have a hearty laugh. It is not difficult to imagine that they might, as with this song, relish the opportunity to poke fun at the landlubber.