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Read a review of River Songs (1996) for SATB chorus and chamber orchestra by Carson P. Cooman, NewMusica.
Read an analysis of River Songs (1996) for SATB chorus and chamber orchestra
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the first movement of this work performed by the Sounding Joy! Singers and the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra Society.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the second movement of this work.
Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of the third movement of this work.
(a CD recording is available from Sounding Joy!)
Download an an MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by the Sounding Joy! Singers and the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra Society.
Download an an MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an an MP3 file of the third movement of this work.
Download a PDF file of the choral score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
Commissioned by the Assabet Valley Mastersingers with the Algonquin Regional High School Chorus, of Northborough, MA, Robert Eaton, director.
These are songs about rivers and water. They are based on traditional American spirituals ("Deep River") and folk songs ("A Mule Named Sal" and "The Water is Wide"). But new material is woven in as part of the ongoing evolution of this repertoire.
Within the framework of "Deep River" a small chorus introduces a strain of "Never been so far from home. River, river carry me on." Perhaps there is homesickness associated with a river journey. Later, the full chorus sings of "running the rapids on the Colorado" as a reference to a contemporary form of river adventure. This movement expresses not only the spiritual aspects of the familiar "Deep River" song, but also the beauty and fear associated with river travel.
"A Mule Named Sal" presents "The Erie Canal" with a special focus on the beloved yet stubborn four-legged mode of conveyance. The mule is obviously in charge here! And those who question her authority fall victim to her "iron toe."
"The Water is Wide" has the familiar lyrics, with a new melody. The central image of this movement is the rippling expanse of the water. The introduction in the strings unfolds slowly, perhaps suggestive of waves. And the chorus enters with repeated notes, marked "peacefully, as if floating." This is a gentle, unrushed song.
Notes by the composer
For circumstances in which the chamber orchestra is not available, the piano reduction version of the work is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of one percussionist (who plays the percussion part from the orchestration). This adds a great deal of character and color to the piano version. For this purpose, the solo percussion part is available for sale from the Rental Department at ECS Publishing.