Gwyneth Walker

The Youthful Traveler

for SSA Chorus, Flute, and Piano (2009)

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Download a PDF file of the score of this composition. NOTE: This work may not be performed before May 16, 2010.

Download a PDF file of the flute part of this composition.


Composed for the Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Burlington, Vermont and especially Laurel Ann Maurer, flute

The topic of travel has inspired the creation of many colorful and imaginative poems. Three of these texts have been set to music in The Youthful Traveler.

The flute is a good traveling instrument – light to carry, and, in its transverse playing position, suggestive of motion, back and forth. Thus, it seemed natural to create songs for women’s chorus, featuring the flute as a traveling companion!

The Walt Whitman poem, “Song of the Open Road,” provides the material for the opening song, “Free Spirit.” “Afoot and lighthearted, I travel the open road.” The piano chords are open and sparse (unencumbered for the trip). The flute is often playing in a high register, with staccati (short notes), as “dots of energy.” The chorus bounces through “lighthearted” phrases, and celebrates the joy of the open road.

“Arise, and Come Away!” is based on the beautiful words from the Song of Solomon: “I am the rose of Sharon. I am the lily of the valley.” For these passages, the piano provides a gentle accompaniment marked “as a filigree of sound” – perhaps suggestive of rose petals falling.

A middle section expresses “My beloved spoke to me...rise up and come away.” The flute soars in the high range. This central passage is the climax of the song. Then, the filigree of rose petals surround the voices, as they quietly sing “I am the rose of Sharon.”

The poem, “Recuerdo,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, is a charming depiction of an “all-nighter.” The young couple, with limitless energy, ride the ferry (the Staten Island Ferry) back and forth all night, enjoying each other’s company, oblivious to the passing hours. They were “very tired...very merry.” Perhaps each of us can remember such a time in our lives, when we were a Youthful Traveler!

Notes by the composer