22. We sing of the lands

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Text: Peter Bird, 2013:

We sing of the lands that are lost to us,
and the times that may never come again.

Where is the forest of the ancient trees?
Where are the salmon leaping in the streams?
Where are the meadows where the deer ran free?
Where are the lands of our ancestors?

When will the glaciers bloom on the peak?
When will the rivers run down to the sea?
When will the corals bloom on the reef?
Not in our time, nor our children's.

Forgive us, Great Mother.
Have mercy, Great Mother.
Forgive us, Great Mother.
We have lost the way.

Musicians: SSAATB chorus, a cappella.

Length: 6 minutes

Program notes: This is a lament for all the beatiful but fragile ecosystems that are being lost, one by one, as the Earth gets more overcrowded and overheated. Renaissance composers showed us that a choral lament can be rich in major chords, dignity, and beauty. Of course, they only added extra diatonic notes to their triad chords as unaccented passing tones or as prepared suspensions. Five centuries later, we use pandiatonic chords more freely, for their ambiguity and subtle beauty, and to improve voice leading. Still, we are much indebted to the first masters.

First performance: In the choral workshop, "Stage de Chant Choral" organized by L'Envol of Roquefort-Les-Pins, Alpes-Maritimes, France; July 2014. Under the direction of Vincent Thomas.

Performance suggestions: The director should feel free to adjust dynamics for choral balance, performance space, and their own artistic interpretation. Naturally, the rich chords in this piece will ring better if vibrato is minimized.

Alternative arrangement: In 2021, James E. Durham ( durham3922@outlook.com ) created an arrangement of this piece for woodwinds (3 oboes, English horn, and 2 bassoons) and a narrator. Score and parts are available on request.

[shrinking glaciers]

shrinking glaciers, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington

Marshmallow from Seattle, 2004

WikiMedia Commons

[redwood forest]

redwood trees in Richardson Grove State Park, California

Miguel Vieira, 2012

WikiMedia Commons

[sea trout]

leaping sea trout, Devon, England

Rupert Fleetingly, 2008

WikiMedia Commons

[bull elk]

bull elk in meadow, Montana

Hagerty Ryan, 2013

WikiMedia Commons

Fresh Choral Music Online, by Peter Bird of Los Angeles