A Gathering : SATB choir
by Anne Cawrse (2021)
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Library shelf no. 782.55542/CAW 2 [Available for loan]
The voice of Australian poet Paul Hetherington has been one of my favourite discoveries of this year (2021) so far. My meandering search for text and inspiration for this commission led me to the Australian Poetry Library, which led me to Paul, who eventually led me to the (currently) unpublished poem, 'Gathering'. I wish to thank Paul for his permission to use his words in this way, and for his assistance in the early stages of writing this work.
I can usually tell from an early reading whether or not a text will 'set' well. Needless to say, I found a lot to love in this beautifully intimate exploration of the fragility of life- so much so that the resulting work is a reasonable amount longer than I anticipated. One aspect of the text that seems made for music is the idea of words attempting to describe the indescribable. Every time I set text to music, I am trying to find the sound that will act as the best vehicle for the words; I am attempting to create something which is greater than the sum of its two parts. Failure feels almost inevitable, for who can say precisely what music 'means' at any fixed point in time, or how a phrase must sound when sung? And yet, I try and try again, approximating words with music, in a cycle of budding and blooming which feels equal parts futile (will I ever get it right?) and joyful; for all its frustrations and regular disappointments, it is a privilege and a true joy to create.
Instrumentation: SATB Chamber Choir with divisi.
Duration: 9 min.
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