Poem of Light
Project Eve of Dallas gave an outstanding performance of this piece for SSAA choir, harp, and dumbek, which you can hear in the sample provided. The piece has also been admirably recorded by the Girl Choir of South Florida on their Carols and Lullabies CD. It’s a song about awakening spring and awakening love. Surprisingly, this sensuous text , sung in Hebrew, is meant for use in Jewish prayer services. The text is by Nahum, a talented poet from 13th-century Spain whose identity is not fully known. Winter has waned and with it my sorrow the fruit trees flower like my joy. Spikenard and myrrh send up their scents, and orchards of treasures blossom and thrive! within them hearts of friends delight. Far-flown hart, fled from my walls, come back and drink my milk and wine; for grief recedes as the beds fill out, embroidered like robes, and trimmed with vines! so worry flees in a flash and is gone. Fragrances waft from the furrows of spices, and the nut tree"s branches above me are spread; precious trees sway in the shadows! behind me cassia, and aloe ahead. My crystal cup is ringed with gold, my garnet wine is mixed with dew, and I let go of all my cares. What made the beloved grazing with roes, leave the city to dwell in groves? Come to your lover who longs with song, and raise the western lamp, my pure one: Through you, my cherub, my flame burns on. Translation by Peter Cole, from The Dream of the Poem For more information on the poet and the great period of blossoming of Hebrew poetry in medieval Spain, see Cole’s book.
Beauty by Beauty
Available in SSAA and SATB versions, this piece is a setting of e poem by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. I was inspired by the Harjo's poem draws our attention to the wonder and mystery of the living presence that continually transforms and rearranges the world, "thought by thought, beauty, by beauty." This piece was written to honor the life of our dear friend Jean Ketter, a member of Vox Feminae, the choir that premiered it, and a long-time colleague of mine at Grinnell College. Jean was a both a gentle and a courageous person, and I hope that this piece has some of her spirit in it—an openness to beauty, and a refusal to let fear govern one’s life. The red dawn now is rearranging the earth Thought by thought Beauty by beauty Each sunrise a link in the ladder Thought by thought Beauty by beauty The ladder the backbone Of shimmering deity Thought by thought Beauty by beauty Child stirring in the web of your mother Do not be afraid Old man turning to walk through the door Do not be afraid