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Singers to Come (complete)

by the University of Minnesota Concert Choir, Kathy Saltzman Romey, cond., Julian Ward, piano | Used by permission of Kathy Saltzman Romey and Philip O'Toole, University of Minnesota.

Singers to Come (2000)

Soprano solo, SATB chorus, SATB semi-chorus, piano 13′

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 Publishing, Distributed by Canticle here.

Program Note

Singers to Come was commissioned by Geneva Stegner Eschweiler in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Fergus Falls Community College (now Minnesota State University-Fergus Falls). Geneva is revered in Fergus Falls and well-known throughout the state for her contributions to musical life in Minnesota. This celebratory cantata is dedicated to all singers who performed under her direction, 1962-1993.

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-like 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 writes driving, concise lines which 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.

The premiere was presented by the FFCC Choir and the Fergus Falls Area Chorale, conducted by Teresa Ashworth at A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls, Minnesota in 2000.


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. . . . (excerpt)

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. . . . (excerpt)

Published in Collected Poems, © by Richard Eberhart.

Singers To Come (Alice 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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