Gwyneth Walker

Gifts from the Sea

for SSAA Chorus and Piano (2006)

Return to Gwyneth Walker Music Catalog
Read a letter to Gwyneth Walker by Kevin Salzman, regarding the interpretation of this work.

View a video presentation of a performance of this work (SSAA and piano) by the Bella Voce Women's Chorus, Dawn Willis, conductor.

Download a PDF file of the poetry used in this work as text for printing in concert programs. (The second poem in this file is the text for this choral work.)

Download a PDF file of the choral score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.


Gifts from the Sea is based on the book, GIFT FROM THE SEA, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The author writes of her sojourn by the beach – a time for reflection on a life which has become filled with the various demands of wife, mother and writer. As the difficulty of balancing these roles weighs upon her, she finds guidance from her surroundings. The sea, the beach and the shells offer moments of wisdom.

One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach,
waiting for a gift from the sea.
Patience is what the sea teaches.
Patience and faith.

A particular fascination is taken with the hermit crab, a creature which changes its shell. There is a joy found in being able to discard the “trappings” of one’s life.

One is free like the hermit crab
to change one’s shell.

The “hermit crab motive” is heard several times, “scurrying” through the musical setting. And, on a more general level, the musical interpretation focuses upon wavelike patterns in the accompaniment (large arpeggiations, in two-measure phrases) and static, floating melodic lines for the chorus, as though riding atop the waves.

[Gifts from the Sea was originally created in SATB voicing, as part of a three-song set entitled Three Days by the Sea. This music was commissioned and premiered by the Key Chorale in Sarasota, FL – Daniel Moe, Music Director. The texts and concept for these songs were formed during the composer’s residency at the Hermitage Artists Retreat on Manasota Key, FL during the Winter of 2004. Many “gifts from the sea” were observed during daily walks on the beach. This new version for SSAA chorus was completed in 2006.]

Notes by the composer