SATB Choir(optional SATB off-stage choir), string quartet, piano
Nov. 14 1999,
South Church, new Britain, Connecticut
Richard Coffey, director
Connecticut Choral Artists,
In honor of the 25th anniversary of CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists), Richard Coffey, director
Made possible by generous grants from The Helen M Sauders Charitable Foundations and the J.Walton Bissell Foundation
I was first approached to compose a work for CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) by a former student of mine, Robert Bausmith. I was very pleased to create a new work for CONCORA, first because of the connection with Bob, secondly because of CONCORA’s outstanding reputation nationally, and thirdly it would bring me back to my home state of Connecticut.
The process of looking for texts was to occupy me for almost a year. It was serendipity that led to CONCORA’s music director, Rick Coffey, sending me the works of the New Britain poet, Constance Carrier. I was immediately attracted to the beautifully lyrical quality of her writing. As I read all of Carrier’s published works (and later, through the kind auspices of her friends, some unpublished manuscripts), I formed a picture of the person who had written these bittersweet, poignant poems. Almost all of her work casts our lives against the foil of death. There is no fear, but a realization that we must live life fully, and that fulness can only be measured by our end.
Of the four poems I chose to set, “Quand-meme,” “ We,” “The Tanager”, and“Laudare” the final poem — from which the composition takes its name — was composed first. Over time, the themes of this last poem wove themselves through the whole work, at last finding an identity in the off-stage chorus. This “disembodied voice” came to represent the answering call to the searching that characterizes Carrier’s poetry. It is a voice of comfort to one who cries out to be alive, to be touched. “Quand-meme,” provides the restless desire to live fully, contrasted in “We” with the struggle not succumb to the numbing ordinariness of life. The off-stage voice “speaks” to the poet, drawing her on to the brief flash of insight in “The Tanager.” For a moment, dullness is shattered and we are present to a revelation of the “music and color that solace mankind.” At the end, there is a paen to death, which restores balance and gives dignity to the measure of our lives. The off-stage chorus accompanies this final hymn with whispering echoes of the opening of the piece, a greeting to eternity.
Laudare is set for antiphonal choirs, string quartet, and piano. It is composed in honor of the 25th anniversary of CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists), Richard Coffey, founder and artistic director. The commission was made possible by generous grants fromThe Helen M Saunders Charitable Foundation and the J. Walton Bissell Foundation.
“Quand-meme,” “ We,” “The Tanager”, and“Laudare” used by permission