If My Love Leaves Me

Program Notes:

Four traditional Irish folk tunes make up this medley arranged by Elektra’s pianist and accomplished Vancouver-based composer Stephen Smith. The arrangement was commissioned by Elektra singer Sheila Little in memory of her parents. Each tells a love story and it’s fascinating how differently each young woman handles her situation. The fourth tune is probably Ireland’s most famous song.

Conductor Notes:

This medley of traditional Irish folk songs is scored for piano and women’s choir in up to 4 parts. As usual, I fiddle with the balance between melody and accompanying voice lines by adjusting the divisi and am happy to share my solutions. Overall, the piece is approachable and very gratifying for the choir and audience. The fragments of “I Will Walk With My Love” (a fragment from Dublin) that open the piece are perhaps the most challenging for a natural, spontaneous-sounding unfolding of the melody. Lots of rubato is called for, and attention to word stress. Next is “I Know Where I’m Going” (from County Antrim), followed by “I Know My Love” (from the west of Ireland). The fourth and final tune is “Danny Boy” (aka “Londonderry Air”) (tune from County Derry with words by Frederic Weatherly). An apt, warm close to this beautiful medley.


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





I once loved a boy, and a bold Irish boy,
who would come and would go at my request,
And this bold Irish boy was my pride and my joy,
and I built him a bower in my breast.

I know where I goin’
and I know who’s goin’ with me.
I know who I love,
but the dear knows who I’ll marry.

I know my love by his way o’ walkin’
and I know my love by his way o’ talkin’
and I know my love in his suit of blue,
and if my love leaves me what will I do?
And still she cried “I love him the best”
and a troubled mind sure can know no rest,
and still she cried “Bonny boys are few
and if my love leaves me what will I do?”

There is a dance house in Mara dyke
and there my true love goes ev’ry night.
He takes a strange one upon his knee
and don’t you think now that vexes me?

But this girl who has taken my bonny, bonny boy,
let her make of him all that she can.
And whether he loves me or loves me not,
I will walk with me love now and then.

O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
from glen to glen and down the mountainside.
The summer’s gone and all the flowers are dying.
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow.
It’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow.
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy I love you so.