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Series: Transient Glory
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes (New York)
The Transient Glory series presents new choral works by some of America’s most engaging contemporary composers, specially written to celebrate the art of children’s choirs and the transient but glorious nature of young singing voices. The works, which were all commissioned for a concert performance series by the Young People’s Chorus of New York, promise to make a significant addition to the repertoire for children’s and youth choruses.
The composer writes:
A couple of years ago, when one of my sons was diagnosed with mental illness, he was very worried about being branded a “disabled person.” I wrote a poem wishing “the label to be taken off his back” as part of the healing process of getting through his illness.
I am no poet, so the words were rather clumsy, but I decided to use the subject matter and asked Xenia Hanusiak, who was writing a libretto for our opera project at the time, to help me with the text. We opted for a combination of syllables that reflected the emotions and the turmoil of the illness, as well as some sections of computer-like coding, syllables with an occasional English word, like “digit,” “barcode,” “scanning,” etc.
In the slowest section of the piece, which is also the only one in a major key, we used English text, and then moved back into the “unknown” codified language. There is also one section (Yah-Yah-Yah), which represents teasing in both a cruel and also a humorous way.
Musically I was drawn to writing a percussive texture with a slow melody on top. Using sequential harmonies, the piece is in sections, mostly in minor keys, all quite energetic, with the occasional “brakes” on moments of climax. I tried to give various voice sections a melody at different times and used several techniques, like canon, unison, singing in parallel chords, sudden change of keys and tempi in order to challenge and extend the young singers.
– Elena Kats-Chernin
For unaccompanied female choir (SSAA). English.
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