Look! Be: leap;

Program Notes:

Look! Be: leap; was commissioned in 2014 by the College of Musical Arts for the Bowling Green State University Women’s Chorus (Ohio), Sandra Frey Stegman, conductor, in celebration of the Chorus’ centennial anniversary.

Conductor Notes:

SSAA with piano. This is a gutsy and highly-successful composition that gave visceral energy to our concert. Using images of painting and bright colours, the poem is a call to seize life – to be brave, to find adventure -to fly. For all of its choppy, through-composed delivery that perfectly reflects the poem, the lines make sense and the rhythms stick well in the singers’ minds. The biggest issue I had to take care of in the first rehearsal was breath marks. I wanted more breaks between clauses than the score showed, to “breathe the punctuation”. Because the piano part is in continuous triplet figures, the “eighth-note” rests I dictated to the singers had to be executed as part of a triplet. Doable, but took a little explanation and isolated practice. A show-stopping ending as the parts overlap with the call to “Fly”!

Composer / Arranger Notes:

Muriel Rukyeser (1913-1980) was a highly acclaimed American poet and political activist. Educated at Vassar College and Columbia University, her writing focused on the truths of outrage and the truths of possibility in the world. She believed that poetry presented a way for people to learn more about themselves and their relations with others, and that through poetry people could be challenged to take action. Exemplary of this is Look! Be: leap;, the title poem in her award-winning first collection, Theory of Flight, published in 1935.


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Poem: Muriel Rukyeser (1913-1980)

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