Song of the Poets
for choir and orchestra

Composition Date: 2014
Duration: 00:06:00
Genre: Choral (9 + Voices), With Full Orchestra

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Mixed chorus ( Divided )
  • 1 x Full orchestra
Programme Note:
Song of the Poets by composer Abigail Richardson-SchulteThis piece was Commissioned by the National Arts Centre (Pinchas Zukerman, Music Director), The World Remembers, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra (Arthur Post, Music Director), and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (Roberto Minczuk, Music Director) in honour of the Centennial of the Great War.Poems by:John McCrae, Canada; Wilfred Owen, England; Luc Durtain, France; Gerrit Engelke, Germany; Louis Aragon, FranceNote: SATB and SSA versions with piano available in Multilingual, English, French, Bilingual. S with piano available in English, French, Bilingual. SATB a cappella available in English only.

Song of the Poets is a work for choir and orchestra (or piano reduction). The work uses excerpts from five poems written by poet soldiers of WWI. These five poets come from four different countries on both sides of the war. Their words are sung in the native languages of English, French, and German (music also available in English or French only). They all write of loss and regret, as would be expected, but each poetically portray this with their own imagery using the sun, sea, poppies, fields, stones, etc. The piece is introduced like a ringing church bell with an excerpt from "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian John McCrae. The women sing much like a tolling bell: "In Flanders fields, the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row," while the men hauntingly chant "we are the dead, short days ago we lived" etc. We move directly into an excerpt from "Futility" by English poet Wilfred Owen who suggests how to wake a fallen comrade: "Move him into the sun. Gently it's touch awoke him once". The soldiers that did survive the war often wished they hadn't. French writer Louis Aragon shows freedom only by escaping to the sea with it's welcoming beautiful, glittering diamonds: "They dance, they sing, they open up their arms to him who weeps." For many, surviving the war was a sentence in itself and the Aragon poem shows freedom through suicide. In fact, it is the only positive "major" music in the entire piece because it is the only text that shows a way out.German poet Gerrit Engelke puts the sides of the war in perspective with a German soldier in conversation with a soldier on the other side. "And while you love your wife, I have and love one too" and "At leveled Ypern, did you die? So did you and so did I." This text made sides of the war seem irrelevant. Every person suffered just as every country suffered. French poet Luc Durtain wrote about being remembered as no more than "your" death. He told of stones wondering where your name would be inscribed, your favorite things soon forgotten and "so soon, your death is all that's left of you." This poem is sung to the same music as the earlier French poem by Aragon. The piece ends by recalling the Owen and McCrae, bringing the piece full circle to the beginning again. These are not graphic poems of fighting or propaganda to gain support for the war effort. Each of these poems looks at the outcome of war with the perspective of poets able to see beyond their own circumstances. The music is simple and narrative in order to best impart the text. Each section has it's own distinct themes however there are similarities that link each section together to form a unified piece despite the language and perspective differences. We seamlessly follow their stories through place and time.

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MV 6400 R521so
  • Genre:
  • Choral (9 + Voices), With Full Orchestra
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • August 28, 2014
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score ( 27 p.)
    27 Pages
    Height: 43 cm
    Width: 28 cm
    Parts page count: 63
    Piano Reduction: 12 Pages
    21 parts ([63] p.)
  • Language Information
  • Language of libretto: English
  • Additional Information:
  • This piece was Commissioned by the National Arts Centre (Pinchas Zukerman, Music Director), The World Remembers, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra (Arthur Post, Music Director), and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (Roberto Minczuk, Music Director) in honour of the Centennial of the Great War. Poems by: John McCrae, Canada; Wilfred Owen, England; Luc Durtain, France; Gerrit Engelke, Germany; Louis Aragon, France Note: SATB and SSA versions with piano available in Multilingual, English, French, Bilingual. S with piano available in English, French, Bilingual. SATB a cappella available in English only.

    Song of the Poets is a work for choir and orchestra (or piano reduction). The work uses excerpts from five poems written by poet soldiers of WWI. These five poets come from four different countries on both sides of the war. Their words are sung in the native languages of English, French, and German (music also available in English or French only). They all write of loss and regret, as would be expected, but each poetically portray this with their own imagery using the sun, sea, poppies, fields, stones, etc. The piece is introduced like a ringing church bell with an excerpt from "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian John McCrae. The women sing much like a tolling bell: "In Flanders fields, the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row," while the men hauntingly chant "we are the dead, short days ago we lived" etc. We move directly into an excerpt from "Futility" by English poet Wilfred Owen who suggests how to wake a fallen comrade: "Move him into the sun. Gently it's touch awoke him once". The soldiers that did survive the war often wished they hadn't. French writer Louis Aragon shows freedom only by escaping to the sea with it's welcoming beautiful, glittering diamonds: "They dance, they sing, they open up their arms to him who weeps." For many, surviving the war was a sentence in itself and the Aragon poem shows freedom through suicide. In fact, it is the only positive "major" music in the entire piece because it is the only text that shows a way out. German poet Gerrit Engelke puts the sides of the war in perspective with a German soldier in conversation with a soldier on the other side. "And while you love your wife, I have and love one too" and "At leveled Ypern, did you die? So did you and so did I." This text made sides of the war seem irrelevant. Every person suffered just as every country suffered. French poet Luc Durtain wrote about being remembered as no more than "your" death. He told of stones wondering where your name would be inscribed, your favorite things soon forgotten and "so soon, your death is all that's left of you." This poem is sung to the same music as the earlier French poem by Aragon. The piece ends by recalling the Owen and McCrae, bringing the piece full circle to the beginning again. These are not graphic poems of fighting or propaganda to gain support for the war effort. Each of these poems looks at the outcome of war with the perspective of poets able to see beyond their own circumstances. The music is simple and narrative in order to best impart the text. Each section has it's own distinct themes however there are similarities that link each section together to form a unified piece despite the language and perspective differences. We seamlessly follow their stories through place and time.
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