Singers to Come (cantata)

S Solo, SATB [semi-chorus], SATB, piano–13′

A cantata about the joy of singing, as expressed by poets classic and modern.

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SKU: No. 7523 (ECS) Categories: , Tags: , , ,


Singers to Come (2000)

Soprano Solo, SATB [semi-chorus], piano
13′ duration
Text: Alice Meynell, P. B. Shelley, Galway Kinnell, Richard Eberhart
Commissioned by Geneva Eschweiler.
Premiere—2000, by the Fergus Falls Community College Choir, Teresa Ashworth, conductor.
Published by ECS. Distributed by Canticle.

Program Note

singers commissioner

DET and Geneva Eschweiler, 2000

I was delighted to be asked to compose a celebratory cantata for A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls, Minnesota in 2000. Singers to Come was commissioned by Geneva Stegner Eschweiler in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Fergus Falls Community College. It is dedicated “to all singers who performed under her direction, 1962-1993.” The premiere was presented by the FFCC Choir and the Fergus Falls Area Chorale, conducted by Teresa Ashworth. Geneva Eschweiler (1926–2019) was revered in Fergus Falls and well-known throughout the state for her contributions to musical life in Minnesota. “The Choir,” the third movement of this cantata, was sung at Geneva’s memorial services in Minneapolis and Fergus Falls.

Singers to Come brings together four poets—a Romantic, a Victorian, and two contemporary Americans—whose subject is passionate singing. The familiar origins of song in the sights and sounds of nature is painted in moonlight to guitar accompaniment by Shelley. Galway Kinnell’s earnest treble choir reminds us—to a hint of “Balm in Gilead”—that “everyone who truly sings is beautiful.” Minnesota-born Richard Eberhart’s driving, concise lines focus our awareness: “Be tree and bird.” Alice Meynell looks to the future and exhorts us to pass it on. As an avid choral singer myself, I can only add: Alleluia, Amen.


Prelude (Alice Meynell)

Singers to come, what thoughts will start
To song? What words of yours be sent
Through man’s soul, and with earth be blent?
These words of nature and the heart
Await you like an instrument.

The keen stars were twinkling (Shelley)

The keen stars were twink’ling,
And the fair moon was rising among them,
Dear Jane!
The guitar was tinkling,
but the notes were not sweet till you sung them

As the moon’s soft splendour
O’er the faint cold starlight of Heaven
Is Thrown,
So your voice most tender
To the strings without soul had then given
Its own.

The stars will awaken,
Though the moon sleep a full hour later,
No leaf will be shaken
Whilst the dews of your melody scatter

Though the sound overpowers,
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing
A tone
Of some world far from ours,
Where music and moonlight and feeling
Are one.

The Choir (Galway Kinnell)

Little beings with their hair blooming
so differently on skulls of odd sizes. . . .

Published in Mortal Acts, Mortal Words, © 1980 by Houghton Mifflin.

Go to the shine that’s on a tree (Richard Eberhart)

Go to the shine that’s on a tree
When dawn has laved with liquid light. . . .

Published in Collected Poems, © by Richard Eberhart.

Singers To Come (Meynell)

No new delights to our desire
The singers of the past can yield,
I lift mine eyes to hill and field,
And see in them your yet dumb lyre,
Poets unborn and unrevealed.

Singers to come, what thoughts will start
To song? What words of yours be sent
Through man’s soul, and with earth be blent?
These words of nature and the heart
Await you like an instrument.

Who knows what musical flocks of words
Upon these pine-tree tops will light,
And crown these towers in circling flight,
And cross these seas like summer birds,
And give a voice to the day and night?

Something of you already is ours;
Some mystic part of you belongs
To us whose dreams of your future throngs,
Who look on hills, and trees, and flowers,
Which will mean so much in your songs.



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