On May 1st, 2009 the Twin Cities Women's Choir premiered “Thaw,” a new work commissioned for them, by three-time McKnight Composer Fellow and a two-time Bush Artist Fellow Edie Hill. Based on a poem of the same title by Lola Ridge, Hill brings the verse to life through both introspective and joyous text painting.
The old testament verse, “And, what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) was the starting point for “The Seeds of Change.” TCWC members were invited to share what these words meant to them and how they lived out these words in their lives. These examples were given to Ann Reed, who wrote two poems, based on her own thoughts and these thoughts of the choir members. Composer Joan Griffith then chose one poem and set it to music. This SSA piece opens with soloists asking, “Listen. What is that sound? Murmuring, whispering? Calling out, what does it say?” Then later, with a driving rhythm in the piano accompaniment, the vocal lines soar above, passionately asking, “How can we learn to see beyond ourselves?”, followed with the confidence of, “By faith, by hope by trust...and love.” This project was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.
Bruce Henry’s “Sing with me a new song, watch the wall of the city shake” really did shake the walls at it’s premiere, as the audience was inspired to stand and join in with the joyous singing of Bruce Henry and the TCWC, accompanied by Bruce Henry’s band. This uplifting visionary song encourages us to sing and dance and build together a new community, “praising all that is with every living breath we take.” This celebratory SSA with soloists song was commissioned by the TCWC, with support from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council a St. Paul Cultural STAR grant.
“On This Day Earth Shall Ring” is an original text and music by composer Joan Griffith. This lively SSAA piece with guitar or piano accompaniment gives the feel of an Appalachian dance piece, with a fun fugue of vocal syllables in the middle section. Commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.
Jazz musician and composer Joan Griffith’s skillful use of rhythm and jazz harmonies in this SSA setting highlights the subtle confidence and perseverance in this clever and satisfying text by Emily Dickinson. “I Shall Keep Singing” was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.
This very fun and sassy text by Edna St. Vincent Millay was originally composed by Joan Griffith for jazz singer, Prudence Johnson, as part of The Millay Project. Joan’s subtle, yet sultry, jazz lines bring to life this clever text and leaves no doubt as to the true degree of sincerity of The Penitent. Joan Griffith and Anita Ruth’s delightful arrangement for SSA choir and piano was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.
The text of “Courage is the Key” combines the poems of “How I found My Wisdom” by Olivia Hedstrom and “My Voice” by Rachel Loh, winners of the TCWC Teen Lyric Writing Contest. Jazz musician and composer Joan Griffith wove these inspiring texts into a song for women’s and children’s choirs. “Courage is the Key” premiered with the combined voices of the TCWC and two very fine youth choirs from the Twin Cities: CitySongs and the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource School Choir. These three choirs came together to celebrate our individual voices telling our own stories and singing our own songs for the Stand Up and Sing! Concert. This work was commissioned by the TCWC.
The TCWC engaged Joan Griffith to set to music the essence of one chapter of Carolyn Holbrook’s memoir. “I Want to Know My Name” recalls a vision of what the aftermath of Carolyn’s birth may have been like, when her parents learned that she was born with a “caul.” People born with a thin membrane covering their face, sometimes referred to as a veil or a caul, are said to have second sight. This powerful piece is scored for SSAA choir and narrator. “I Want to Know My Name” was commissioned by the TCWC with funding from the Renee Robbins Memorial Fund, The Willens Family Foundation, Julie Anderson and Carol Rue.
“Set Me Like a Seal” was the TCWC’s first commissioned piece from the Renee Robbins Memorial Fund. Composer Joan Griffith set this text from the Old Testament Song of Solomon, which was read at Renee and her husband Frank’s wedding. This setting for SSA chorus opens with a unison recitative of “Set me like a seal on your heart. Set me like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death...” and then builds with soaring lines proclaiming the strength of love. At the premiere, the TCWC was joined by the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra which performed Anita Ruth’s orchestral accompaniment.
Composer Joan Griffith’s spirited setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven?” starts off with a funky, rhythmic alto line. A lovely interplay between the SSAA parts brings to life this astute text, which speaks about inclusion, and eventually ponders the question, “Could I forbid?” and shut others out? This piece was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.
Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Some Keep the Sabbath”, is a witty, light-hearted statement of personal spirituality. Composer Joan Griffith set this nature inspired text with flowing lines that emphasize the poets musings on immortality and her non-traditional way of observing the Sabbath. This SSAA song was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.
Commissioned by the Twin Cities Women’s Choir, “Join the Circle of the Dance” explored the energy, mood, and aspirations of four generations of women entering the 21st century. Four choirs of women — representing the generations from elementary school age through seniors — joined together as one voice to give life to this selection.
The lyrics for “Join the Circle of the Dance” come from the words of the women and girls singing in the four choirs, who were asked questions such as: What’s the best age to be? What would you ask your mother if you could ask her anything? What’s the hardest age to be? What’s it like to grow old?Janis Hardy assembled the answers into beautiful, touching, and often surprising lyrics. Joan Griffith’s composition not only captures the individual essence of each generation; it also weaves the common characteristics of womanhood throughout.
|Button Up Your Overcoat||B . G. DeSylva
|Mary A. Bussman|
|Farther Along||W. P. Joy||Mary A. Bussman|
|Heroes||Ann Reed||Mary A. Bussman||Turtlecub Productions|
|I Feel Lucky||Mary Chapin Carpenter||Anita Ruth|
|I'll Fly Away||Mary A. Bussman|
|Ichacho Lakho||Sheasby Matiure||Mary A. Bussman|
|Oh, Had I a Golden Thread||Pete Seeger||Mary A. Bussman|
|Peace Begins||Tracy E. Tracy||Mary A. Bussman||Past the Moon Productions|
|The Road Home||Stephen Paulus||Stephen Paulus||Paulus Publications|
|Senzenina||Mary A. Bussman|
|The Star Spangled Banner||John Stafford Smith
Francis Scott Key
|Mary A. Bussman|
|We Go On||Tracy E. Tracy||Mary A. Bussman|
|Yellow Ribbon||Marie LeBaron
|Mary A. Bussman|