Wood River

Program Notes:

The Wood River runs through southern Saskatchewan on the Canadian prairie. It is an old river that winds and twists its way along and is a favourite spot for picnics and lovers’ meetings. Connie wrote this love song while living in the busy city of Toronto, thinking back to this beautiful spot where she had once lived.

Conductor Notes:

Considered the quintessential song from this prairie farming province of Canada , Wood River is an original folk song by Saskatchewan folk singer/songwriter Connie Kaldor. This arrangement for SSAA and piano by Vancouverite Willi Zwozdesky is one of Elektra’s few true ballads in a pop/folk style, and was very well received at the ACDA National Convention in San Diego in 1997. The sentiment is loving, inviting and supportive. Wood River should sound relaxed and smooth throughout. The main challenge is rhythmic; getting the syncopation to feel completely relaxed and natural. It’s important to realize that the lower of the two opening lines is the melody. Not until the refrain at m20 should the top line dominate the texture. The alto 2 part sits fairly low throughout, which is not as much of a problem here as it would be in a piece needing “classical” tone. Your pop-music alto soloist will thank you for the second verse.

2015 Note: The arranger has recently done an orchestration of Wood River that works both for the SSAA and SATB versions. Contact him through the publisher: info@rhythmictrident.com

Composer / Arranger Notes:

SSAA and piano with alto solo. The great appeal of Connie Kaldor’s Wood River are the unbeatable pairing of timeless lyrics and a gently lilting melody. I first came to this song through the recommendation of Bill Richardson, who was one of the singers in the Vancouver Men’s Chorus. At that time, the men’s chorus was looking for new music for an all-Canadian program, and so I first arranged Wood River for men’s voices in 1987. My arrangement is based on one of Connie’s earliest recordings of the song, which featured an interlude for solo cello. As a choral work, it was an immediate success with audiences and singers alike. It was clear to me that Wood River would be a natural choice for the treble voice recasting which followed several years later. Elektra first performed Wood River at the Orpheum Theatre in a joint concert called CityFolk, produced by the Vancouver Men’s Chorus. The full version with string accompaniment was given its premiere at that performance, and it became a favourite of the choir thereafter. In 1994, when Elektra was first invited to sing for the ACDA National Convention in San Diego , they included Wood River on their program. Wood River was launched to the international choral community at that time. I also travelled to San Diego for that performance, and formally published Wood River so that it could be shared among choral enthusiasts. Since then and with the release of Elektra’s recording , Wood River has been performed around the world and frequently recorded. It has become a classic of Canada ‘s popular choral literature..As the arranger and publisher of this music, as a personal friend and admirer of Morna and Diane, and as an early supporter of the choir, I dedicated the treble voice edition of Wood River to Elektra in recognition of their unique role in the life of the song.

References:

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

Collections:

Concerts:

Text:

Text: copyright Connie Kaldor; reprinted with permission

Oh won’t you come with me

Where the Wood River flows?

We’ll watch it meander slowly

As the sky turns from red to dark.

And as that sun goes down

We’ll throw our arms around

Each other and tell the dreams

That are deep in the heart.

Because the heart is bigger than trouble

And the heart is bigger than doubt.

But the heart sometimes needs a little help

To figure that out.

So won’t you come with me

Where the Wood River flows?

The little Wood River knows

That it goes to nowhere but

That doesn’t stop it going

Or those willows growing

Or all of the lovers showing

Their hearts to each other there.

Chorus

So won’t you come with me

Where the Wood River flows?

The little Wood River knows