Rain Makes Its Own Night

  • Composer: Alexina Louie 
  • Publisher: manuscript
  • Canadian Composition: Yes
  • Duration: 7:30

Program Notes:

In setting Anne Michael’s poem, Canadian composer Alexina Louie has created a transparent and ethereal landscape of sound representing a rainy forest. Commissioned in 2018 by Choral Canada and Elektra Women’s Choir, Morna Edmundson, Artistic Director, for …float…, a project of Choral Canada. Commissioned with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Vancouver Foundation.

Conductor Notes:

Rain Makes Its Own Night (2018) was one of five pieces commissioned by five choirs to be performed in a special project of Choral Canada funded by the Canada Council’s New Chapter program. Each choir was instructed to commission a work that represented their region of Canada with the common theme of water. When we found this poem by Anne Michaels, we realized that “rain” would aptly serve as BC’s representation.

I approached Alexina Louie for this project partly because she grew up in Vancouver and could, with Elektra, represent our part of Canada in the July 1, 2018 …float… project in Newfoundland. Equally importantly, while she is a renowned instrumental composer in our country, she has only previously written one choral piece! My intention with our Celebrating Women Composers multi-year project is not only to provide opportunities and encouragement to emerging women composers, but to increase the number of established women composers who have experience writing for women’s choir and might continue to consider us an interesting medium for their expression. I was not disappointed in this beautiful work.

It is in four parts with some divisi, and tessituras are excellent both for ease of singing and tuning, but also for text delivery. It is largely homophonic. An aleatoric middle section is beautifully built over a Bb pedal in the altos, who eventually join the layering of short motives. At times rich and almost orchestral in texture, the harmonic language of this work is very gratifying. Descending passages representing the falling rain have to be learned with care to avoid flatting.

We engaged movement therapist Carol Schouboe to incorporate some subtle movement in the Newfoundland performance, which took place amid a stand of bare tree trunks on a savoury farm.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

My birthplace, Vancouver, is extraordinarily beautiful, but it is very wet. Just ask anyone there. It rains a lot and the air is often heavy with moisture. When Morna Edmundson, artistic director of Vancouver’s Elektra Women’s Choir introduced me to Canadian author Anne Michaels’ 1985 poem, Rain Makes Its Own Night, its beautiful sensuality immediately caught my imagination. The harmonic overlaps and glissandi in the opening bars are intended to evoke the moist Vancouver air. My musical imagery parallels Anne’s poetic imagery of rain. The listener is meant to feel the rain through the falling musical gestures found throughout the piece. – Alexina Louie

References:

This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.

Collections:

Concerts:

For SSAA (divisi) choir with optional rain sticks

Rain Makes Its Own Night (1985) by Anne Michaels
(used by permission)

Note that the lines in editorial brackets are not included in the musical composition.

Rain makes its own night, long mornings with lamps left on.
[Lean beach grass sticks to the floor near your shoes,
last summer’s pollen rises from damp metal screens.

This is order, this clutter that fills clearings between us.
clothes clinging to chairs, your shoes in a muddy grip.]

The hard rain smells like it comes from the earth.
The human light in our windows, the orange stillness
of rooms seen from outside. The place we fall to alone,
falling to sleep. Surrounded by a forest’s green assurance,
the iron gauze of sky and sea,
while night, the rain, pulls itself down through the trees.

 

Commissioned by Choral Canada and Elektra Women’s Choir, Morna Edmundson, Artistic Director, for …float…, a project of Choral Canada. Commissioned with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Vancouver Foundation.