WATER. For three of more children's choirs, Celtic fiddle and Irish bouzouki. Commissioned by the Shallaway—Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus for Songbridge 2008 with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts and the choir. Based on Newfoundland folk dance songs by Emile Benoit. 2008. Duration: 8:30. Score and parts available through PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.

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WATER for Celtic fiddle, Irish bouzouki, three or more children’s choirs and audience, was commissioned by Shallaway Children’s Choir based in St. John’s, Newfoundland for the Songbridge 2008 gathering in Copenhagen with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts. The idea of “water” as a theme for the piece and of all oceans of the world being one was Susan Knight’s, the choir’s director at the time and well known Canadian arts advocate. Her very strong feelings of place and the character of the terrain and the people of Newfoundland, necessitated that I compose the work in Newfoundland. The trip made possible by Susan’s tireless efforts and the hospitality of Robert and Wanda Thompson and Mark and Sandra Dobbin, I spent ten days in the St. John’s area recording and listening to folk Newfoundland musicians and the Shallaway choir in preparation for this composing project. I am particularly indebted to violin/fiddle player Alison Black and singer/bouzouki player Andrew Dale for giving me the recordings upon which I based my composition and to Kelly Walsh, the choir’s new director, who “lend” me the choir for a day to experiment with extended vocal techniques and vocal simulations. WATER was written during five short days, December 11 – 15, 2008 at Beachy Cove, Nf.  

The work is based on two well known fiddle tunes by Emile Benoit, one of Newfoundland’s prominent fiddlers, namely “Velvet in the Wind” and “Kelly Russell’s Reel”. Since this was a piece for children, I intended from the start that (a) it should be for children, that is it should be something that felt like children created it and are having a great time performing and (b) it should have a very strong Newfoundland (Irish) flavour to it. It was less important to me that this would be a composer’s statement although my own ideas about the world ultimately find their way into this piece like in the rest of my music. Finally, the Songbridge stipulations specify that the audience as a whole must be somehow accounted for in the composition, so there is a part for the audience as well, mostly simulations of oceans waves breaking on a beach or rocks and spoken fragments of the phrase “we are made of water”, plus humming some basic harmonies. 

Four children’s choirs participated in the premiere performance (the Shenzhen Middle School Choir from The People’s Republic of China, the Danchurch National Choir from Denmark, the Magnificat choir from Hungary and Shallaway from Canada). The choirs got together at the Orkesterefterskolen, a music boarding school in Holstebro in northern Denmark and worked there for several days before giving the world premiere performance at the Tivoli Gardens Theatre in Copenhagen on July 23 2008.


The Texts:

Choirs/Audience: [sounds of surf and crushing ocean waves]
 
[Enter bouzouki with senza misura intro to “Velvet in the Wind” by Emile Benoit]
 
All choirs: [humming]
 
Child soprano (Choir 1):
One Ocean, One World
One common destiny
That binds us all together
 
Other choirs:
Together, together.
 
Child soprano:
Come, let’s all sing again:
 
Other choirs: [humming]
 
Choir 1 (tutti):
One Ocean, One World
One common destiny
That binds us all together
 
All choirs [more rhythmic]:
Together.
We’re made of Water
Water, Water, Water
We’re made of Water
All choirs and Audience [humming and speaking]:
Water, Water,
We’re made of Water [repeat several times]
We’re made for Love.
 
[Fiddle enters together with Choir 1]
 
Choir 1:
Let’s hold hands together and make
All the seas as one
Sailing around the world
Embracing everyone
 
Let our differences fade away
Like all the differences before a storm
Love, love is the answer
To the problems of this world
 
Love is the answer [repeat]
 
All choirs and Audience [humming and imitating the sound of waves]
 
All choirs:
Let us celebrate:
 
Choir 1:
Our friendship and our commitment
To the brotherhood/sisterhood of all.
 
All choirs:
Let us celebrate:
Our different ways of naming the One.
 
All choirs and Audience [first speaking]:
Water, Water, Water,
We’re made of Water [repeat several times]
[then imitating the sound of waves]:
 
Choir 1 [at the same time as all the above]:
Let’s reach for each other and make
All our hearts as one
All colours and all creeds
Accepting everyone.
 
Let our hatred melt away;
Let the New Age unfold.
Love, love is the answer
To the problems of this world.
 
Love is the answer [repeat several times and eventually hold the last syllable]
 
[Enter Fiddle and bouzouki with “Kelly Russell’s Reel” by Emile Benoit. Faster tempo.]
 

Choir 1:   
Love’s the answer (8x)   
All the oceans are One   
And Love is the answer  
For our world   

  Other choirs [singing and clapping]:
  Love, love, ou-a, ou-a, ou-a, etc.
  ONE

 

Choir 1:
Let the Great Spirit
Protect us all
And give us wisdom
To change our ways
From greed to love
 
All choirs:
Let the Great Spirit
Protect us all
And give us wisdom
To change our ways
From greed to love
To change our ways
And save our world
 
[very short pause]

Choir 1:   
Love’s the answer (8x)   
All the oceans are One   
And Love is the answer  
For our world   

  Other choirs [singing and clapping]:
  Love, love, ou-a, ou-a, ou-a, etc.
  ONE

 

 


Premiere performance: July 23, 2:30 PM. Four children's choirs: Shallaway—Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus (Canada), Shenzhen Middle School Choir (China), Danchurch National Choir (Denmark), and Magnificat choir (Hungary), Andrew Dale, Irish bouzouki and Alison Black, Celtic fiddle, under the direction of Kellie Walsh. Songbridge. 8th IFCM (International Federation of Choral Music) World Symposium on Choral Music. Tivoli Gardens Concert Hall; Copenhagen, Denmark.


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