Music’s Music

Scoring

SATB-SATB choir,mezzo-soprano solo,  clarinet and harp  (optional strings)

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Details

13:00
2009

Los Angeles Master Chorale
Grant Gershon, director
February, 2009

Kathie and Alan Freeman upon Kathie's retirement as Manager of Artistic Personnel and Production.
Dedicated to the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon, and Terry Knowles

–Full score, ECS #7479, (MS solo, SATB/SATB, clar in A, harp, opt. string nonet [or string orch])
–Clar, hp, & string parts, ECS #7480
–Choral score, ECS #7381
–Clar & harp parts, ECS #7382

Program Notes

Music’s Music occupied me for much of spring, fall and winter of 2008. The process began, as if often does, with conversations with the commissioner, in this case with Kathie Freeman, Manager of Artistic Personnel and Production of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. I didn’t know Kathie, but in a series of phone conversations, Kathie told me about her earliest experiences in music and how they developed into a richly rewarding singing career. She wanted to commission a piece for the LA Master Chorale to celebrate singing and what it meant to her over the years. She requested a work in English so that it would communicate readily to an American audience. And while she was clearly proud that LA Master Chorale could sing the most demanding scores, she specified she wanted the new work to be accessible to a wide variety of choirs to ensure possible future performances.

We spoke at length of texts. Almost accidentally, I asked her if she knew any poets. She said she ought to, inasmuch as her daughter was a poet. With some trepidation, I asked if I might be in touch with her daughter, Megan. It turned out Megan had been writing poetry about her mother around the idea of this commission. Three “Mother Music” poems were ” in progress.” The poems immediately struck me with their directness and lyrical quality.

Various phrases of the poetry “sang” immediately off the page: “music’s music” spoke of an interior landscape – an “inscape” as Gerard Manley Hopkins would have put it – that is beyond the meaning of the words, indeed beyond the power of words to express. This quality of music to capture out hears, enter our souls, and invite us to a lifetime of unfolding richness – that seemed to subject worthy of the commissioner’s desire to reflect her own heartfelt experiences in music-making.

As often happens in the process of creating a new work, Music’s Music started to take on life of its own. Originally conceived for choir, it became double-choir, then with an obblicgato clarinet, then a harp was added; over time, the music started to become such a personal statement, that it seemed more appropriate sung by a solo voice. What emerged was a portrait: a singer at the end of her career, living with the realization that something which she’d done naturally since childhood was no longer easy, and that there would be a time when she would have to leave it behind. As the solo part became the vehicle for much of the personal text, the choral parts took on an encompassing, comforting quality, almost like the singer’s inhalation and exhalation: her unconscious and deep connection to a world accessed through the breath of singing.

The love of music does not retired when the mechanism is no longer in its prime. That transformative power of music to reveal and enrich does not go away. But there is an acceptance which eventually overtakes all singers. “And after and after and after and after, a quite thanks on the side of God’s cheek.” There is releas, and there is also gratitude.

Music’s Music is a tribute to a long musical career spent singing with colleagues and sharing the love of making music in song.

-Steven Sametz

Text

Music’s Music

Music.
Music held my head in grief
When my own hands were far too small
And rivers curved and shodows of my face
Across the broken earth

Requiem for innocence
Echoing across canyon walks.

Music.
The many endings of the beginning
Of the beginning
The memories of God’s gentle breath-
Theis perfect moment of this moment:
That is this music’s music.

Music has been God’s quiet breath
[This perfect moment of this moment:
That is this music’s music
]

My hillsides become temples
Around rings of summer times
Under owl moons
Embracing choirs of trees.
[This perfect moment:
That is this music’s music
]

My angels are the mockingbirds
Singing blessings into midnight skies
Caressing broken hearts with
Melodies I’ve heard before
[This perfect moment of this moment:
That is this music’s music
].

 And after and after and after and after
After each note rippling across my life
Like the laughter of my children’s child
My quiet thanks on the side of God’s cheek:
This is this music’s music
[This perfect moment:
That is this music’s music]

Music.

                        -Megan E. Freeman