23 July 2014

Done with the search (what, already?)

As I have been mulling a choice of text for the young-choir-&-piano piece, Paul sent to suggest Dona nobis pacem ("5-10 mins"). Which I think perfectly apt. In my quick-&-mussy search yesterday, I found that (reflecting the intersection of two facts: that perhaps as much as 35% of the world's population fancy themselves poets; and that everybody loves peace) a Google search mostly gave me New Age-related links of no use and less interest. I did, however, find a couple of 17th-c. poems, which are lovely and most worthy of setting to music, but which (understandably for the time and place) make reference to (e.g.) one born in a stable (on the Prince of Peace theme). In our present instance, we want a text free of specific theological implication.

Even though the petition dona nobis pacem comes straight from the Mass (which, naturally, is a cornerstone reference of Western culture), there are two settings of that text already slated for the program. Sure, that puts the musical pressure on.

When Paul and I talked this over in person, he mentioned that he thought of the Vaughan Williams, which naturally is on too grand a scale to be practical for this concert.

But . . .

In the same search which turned up the 17th-c. poems, I found a Whitman poem (and I had been thinking of Whitman from the first, had in fact quickly thumbed a bit through the actual book yesterday morning) of which one stanza in particular would suit. So, with Paul suggesting that I set Dona nobis pacem (with which, face it, I should be well challenged to create 10 minutes of music), I have been brought face to face with "the Vaughan Williams model." Not so large-scale a piece, naturally . . . and (thinking as I type) not sure whether to leave it as a single movement, or to make it three movements, with the Latin text for bookends, and a musically "enriched" return to it after the English text for a larger central movement.

We shall see. I feel certain that the question of the text is completely settled.

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