Gwyneth Walker

To an Isle in the Water

for SATB Chorus and Chamber Orchestra (2005)

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Download an MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by the Toledo Choral Society, Richard Napierala, conductor.
Download an MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the third movement of this work.
Download an MP3 file of the fourth movement of this work.

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

Download a PDF file of the poetry used in this work as text for printing in concert programs.


To an Isle in the Water: musical settings of the poetry of William Butler Yeats in four movements: “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, "Shy One”, "When You Are Old”, and “Song of Wandering Aengus”.

Commissioned by the Saginaw Choral Society – Saginaw, Michigan, Robert Sabourin, Music Director and dedicated to the memory of Thomas T. Princing, cherished Patron of the Arts

The poetry of William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) speaks in a simple and direct language. The imagery is rich and beautiful, providing fertile ground for musical expression. In the first song (“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”), one might hear the “lake water lapping” through arpeggiated accompaniment patterns. Or, one might feel the gentle, slow melodic descent when “peace comes dropping slow.”

Each poem, and each song, has its own central images similarly displayed. The musical language is basically tonal, with an emphasis upon melodic writing in keeping with the lyricism of the poetry.

The four songs in this set progress through time, from the initial setting forth on a journey (“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”), to the newness of young love (“Shy One”), to a reflection on the passing of years (“When You Are Old”) and lastly, to the eternal, transcendent beauty of love (“The Song of Wandering Aengus”). One senses the poet seeking that which is always beyond the limits of the finite world.

And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
the silver apples of the moon,
the golden apples of the sun.

Notes by the composer