Songs from a sunrise land : for SSAA voices and string quartet
by John Peterson (2006)
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Library shelf no. 783.14547/PET 1 [Available for loan]
In December 2005, I travelled through the deep south of the United States, passing through Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, ostensibly on a journey to learn more about the origins of jazz and the 'blues'. I was, however, also struck by how deeply the impact of the American Civil War, fought almost 150 years before, is still felt by so many people, particularly in the South. This is unsurprising given the ferocity with which the war was fought, and the sheer numbers of people killed during the conflict, but I found myself realising how difficult it must have been for families to have their sons, fathers and/or husbands, go off to fight and possibly never return. Thus, when recently asked to write some songs for female voices and string quartet, I was immediately attracted to the idea of finding texts that reflected the female perspective of sending loved ones off to war. The texts I have chosen to set all come from the "Poetry and Music of the War between the States" website (http://civilwarpoetry.org). While the authors are all unknown, the sentiments expressed reflect the anguish, nervous expectation, and, finally, the acceptance of loss and hope for the future that was felt by so many during the Civil War but also, unfortunately, remain relevant in today's troubled times. Musically, the settings of these texts are relatively simple in terms of texture and construction, and concentrate primarily on the evocation of the inherent emotion of the words.
Instrumentation: SSAA voices, 2 violins, viola, cello.
Duration: 17 min.
Contents note: 1. The Southern mother's charge -- II. If we knew -- III. The snow at Fredericksburg.
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