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The Grass Is Full of Stars

Instrumentation: children's choir (SS), flute, clarinet & string quartet
OR
children's choir (SS) & piano (movements I & II)
Duration: 10:00 (3, 430, 230)
Year Composed: 2020
Texts: Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922)
Commissioner: Marc Djokic,
with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts
  1. The Ears of Pan*
  2. Fugue "In the Darkened Sky"** (choir tacet)
  3. Daisy Time*

* These songs may be performed separately, with ensemble or piano accompaniment.

** This instrumental movement for sextet may be performed independently.


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Program Notes

Every summer for over half a century, the Canadian Amateur Musicians, Musiciens amateurs du Canada (CAMMAC) has welcomed amateur musicians to its lakeside site in Harrington, Quebec. To honour the organization's history and mission, the violinist Marc Djokic, who, with his musical family, attended the camp as a child, and is now its Artist in Residence, commissioned me to write a piece for children's choir and professional chamber ensemble.

I selected two texts by a favourite Canadian writer of mine, Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922), that, taken together, celebrate childhood, music-making, summer, and nature. "The Ears of Pan" begins mysteriously, its rhythmic patter bursting into a soaring, central melody. The buoyant, zesty, and tuneful "Daisy Time" splits the choir in two parts, canonically.

Between these two lively songs sits a sombre, instrumental interlude, a six-part fugue for the adults in the room. Its subject, countersubject, and two subsidiary themes—one entirely rhythmic—are all derived from motives in the first movement. Even its subtitle borrows a phrase from "The Ears of Pan". As a meditation on simple material, the fugue suggests, perhaps, a mature (or nostalgic?) reflection on childhood itself. Yet the fugue stands on its own and can be performed independently, much like Bach's six-part fugue from The Musical Offering, the score of which I had open on my desk while composing.—R.R.


Performances

  • POSTPONED COVID-19 Jul. 25, 2020—Marc Djokic & friends.
    CAMMAC. Harrington, QC.

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Score Perusal & Parts Rental

For score perusal and parts rental information, contact Robert Rival.