Gwyneth Walker

Open My Heart with Song

for SATB Chorus and Piano (2013)

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Download an MP3 file of this work performed by the Mountainside Master Chorale, Jean-Sebastian Vallee, conductor.

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

Commissioned by the Mountainside Master Chorale, Dr. Sebastien Vallee, Music Director in celebration of their 20th anniversary season: 1994-2014

Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Mary J. Rodgers, Mr. & Mrs. John R. Molinaro, and Mr. & Mrs. Cleve Goring

Open My Heart with Song is a set of three musical settings of the poetry of Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). Each poem presents its own, uniquely beautiful images. Yet, common threads run throughout the cycle.

"A Shower of Mercy" speaks of the Lord's healing power as gentleness (a shower of mercy upon a parched heart), exuberance (a burst of song), peace and rest, the ceremony of a king, and strength (thy light and thy thunder). This diversity inspires a range of musical language, from "cascading showers" in the accompaniment, to peaceful "chords of rest," to forceful, choral "accents of thunder."

A recurrent topic in Tagore's poetry is that of the heart closed off from the fullness of the spiritual world (i.e., from beyond). This message is introduced in "A Shower of Mercy," and continues with "Closed Path." A solo voice, truly alone, expresses his exhaustion, feeling that his voyage has come to its end. Yet, through the Lord's will, he finds new melodies breaking forth from his heart. Thus, the opening of the heart through song is a salvation. The full chorus joins the soloist as the pathway opens.

At the end of "Closed Path," the soloist celebrates the transcendence into new country.,?I> This leads to the third movement, "Heaven of Freedom," - a poem and song about country in a political sense. The poet hopes and prays for a new land (his native India) where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. This is not a world narrowed by domestic walls. There is openness and truth. Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

This is truly inspiring poetry - reverent and celebratory. The musical settings aspire to the same exuberance and depth of truth as are expressed in the texts. The closing phrase of let my country awake seems very much as relevant today as it was a century ago.

Notes by the composer