Blinded by a Leafy Crown

Program Notes:

This work was commissioned by Canadian women’s choir Adleisia, under the artistic direction of Amelia McMahon and Virginie Pacheco. Premiered on April 28th, 2018 in Montreal by Choeur Adleisia and Oriana Women’s Choir of Toronto.

Conductor Notes:

An exquisite, a cappella work for double SSA choir. The texture is largely homophonic, but punctuated in subtle and effective ways with rhythmic variations between the choirs. The tempo is slow, unfolding in very long lines to a dramatic climax. The piece ends quietly.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

In her poem “Leaves”, Sarah Teasdale compares her faiths and beliefs to leaves – of a tree, or, in her very evocative analogy, a crown of leaves. We identify ourselves with our beliefs and often wear them proudly. Yet, such a leafy crown can be blinding. During the course of our lives, some of these beliefs end up leaving us. As they do, painful as the process may be, it does feel like blinders have been removed. All of a sudden, we see the world just a little more clearly.

Blinded by a Leafy Crown, a piece for two treble choirs, begins with the falling of our faiths, one by one, as voices intermingle like autumn leaves: one choir remains on the beat, and the other weaves on through with syncopations. As we look back at the past, during a time when our faiths still had a stronghold, the music becomes joyous and carefree. But it does not last long. When the sadness of the loss of the leaves takes hold, the music grieves a while, until the full realization hits us: “Blinded by a leafy crown / I looked neither up nor down”. This is the most stately moment of the text: simple but to the point. What follows is then a celebration of all the new things we can experience now that we are rid of our old blinders and prejudices. The music swells and expands in ecstasy of our new freedom, and ends in hushed humility and gratitude.


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



By Sarah Teasdale

One by one, like leaves from a tree,
All my faiths have forsaken me;
But the stars above my head
Burn in white and delicate red,
And beneath my feet the earth
Brings the sturdy grass to birth.
I who was content to be
But a silken-singing tree,
But a rustle of delight
In the wistful heart of night,
I have lost the leaves that knew
Touch of rain and weight of dew.
Blinded by a leafy crown
I looked neither up nor down–
But the little leaves that die
Have left me room to see the sky;
Now for the first time I know
Stars above and earth below.