I Go Among Trees (In-Progress)

for mixed SATB choir and Marimba

Written: In-Progress
Duration: 15'
Instrumentation: mixed SATB choir (with divisis, SSAATTBB) and marimba (5-octaves)
Commissioned by Barbara Zucker-Pinchoff for New Amsterdam Singers, Clara Longstreth, music director and conductor, in honor of the choir’s 50th Anniversary, Longsreth’s 80th birthday, and Zucker-Pinchoff’s 65th birthday.
Upcoming World Premieres: New Amsterdam Singers, Broadway Presbyterian Church, New York, NY, March 20, and Theater at St. Jean, New York NY, March 22, 2020.
PublisherBill Holab Music

PROGRAM NOTE (In-Progress)

Perhaps because I have fond memories of hiking in the Adirondack Mountains when I was young, I have always been drawn to forests and meadows. There is something deeply satisfying about spending time among trees, meadows, and in nature, and away from the urban environment. I Go Among Trees consists of settings of three poems that celebrate this terrain, and the poets I chose all express a profound affection for the natural world in their writings.

The first movement, I Go Among Trees, is a setting of a poem from a book of poetry entitled A Timbered Choirby Wendell Berry. In this contemplative, zen-like poem, Berry expresses the meditative feelings of being alone among the trees, and of being afraid and experiencing fear, all while using the metaphor of singing and songs to express a connection to both the outside world and feelings inside oneself. By the end of the poem, the narrator is able to let go and is at peace with these feelings.

The poem for the second movement, The Kestrel, is by the English poet John Frederick Freeman, and was suggested to me by Barbara Zucker-Pinchoff. Barbara liked the poem because it reminded her of the meadows around her family’s country house, and specifically of the kestrels that take up residence there. Barbara was kind enough to invite me and my family out to her house, so I saw the meadow with my own eyes, and this helped provide inspiration.

The final movement, March in New England, is based on the poem of the same name by May Sarton. The scene describes the transition from the colder, harsher months of winter, to the greener, more colorful months of spring. The words in the final stanza, with the image of rushing "to break the trees open” and the “torrents of English spring” help to provide a climactic ending to the entire work.

I Go Among Treeswas commissioned by Barbara Zucker-Pinchoff for New Amsterdam Singers, Clara Longstreth, music director and conductor, in honor of the choir’s 50th Anniversary, Longsreth’s 80th birthday, and Zucker-Pinchoff’s 65th birthday.