Circle Game, The

Program Notes:

Elektra commissioned this arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s timeless classic from Vancouver-based singer/songwriter, teacher, and Elektra singer Kate MacColl “The Circle Game” speaks to so many of us in the various stages of our lives.

Conductor Notes:

SSAA div a cappella with two alto solos (could be done by the same singer). This arrangement is for technically solid choirs whose singers can move easily between roles of “storyteller” and accompaniment. Careful attention to balance makes this piece sparkle. I have found that starting in 4/4 and moving withing a few measures to 2/2 is the most successful for us.


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





Yesterday, a child came out to wonder.

Caught a dragonfly inside a jar.

Fearful when the sky was full of thunder,

And tearful at the falling of a star.


And the seasons they go ’round and ’round

And the painted ponies go up and down.

We’re captive on the carousel of time.

We can’t return, we can only look behind

From where we came

And go round and round and round

In the circle game.

Then, the child moved ten times ’round the seasons,

Skated over ten clear frozen streams.

Words like, “When you’re older”, must appease him

And promises of someday make his dreams.


Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now,

Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town.

And they tell him, “Take your time. It won’t be long now

‘Til you drag your feet to slow the circles down”.


So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty

Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true

There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty

Before the last revolving year is through.