Three geography songs : for SATB choir
by Paul Stanhope (1997)
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These three choral movements have been extracted from a larger cycle of five pieces originally known as Geography Songs. The texts set here are by the Australian poet Michael Dransfield, who died at the young age of 24 in the early 1970s, having produced a remarkable series of published works. The three poems I have set here-Explorer's Journal, Geography III and Geography VI-all deal with the rapturous beauty of the natural world. Dransfield, who was a heroin addict, sought the redemptive qualities in nature as a way to escape his "too literal company" and the "kerb and gutter citizens" of his inner-city digs in order to find the "jade shadow of a rainforest".
The poet's imagery of his natural settings is vivid, and I have emphasised certain word-pictures, such as the ecstatic repetition of "stars" in Explorer's Journal, the equation of the forest as a sort of cathedral of nature in Geography III, the references to music also in this poem and finally and the dominating sense of skyline in the gentle Geography VI. These nature poems are among Dransfield's best work: he clearly felt enriched and in touch with the natural world, its beauty and its cycles of renewal and re-birth.
Instrumentation: SSAATTBB choir (20-40 voices).
Duration: 15 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — High standard chamber choir.
Contents note: Explorers journal -- Geography III -- Geography VI.
'Geography songs' composed 1994-1997 ; this version 2005.
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