Gwyneth Walker

Review of "The Tree of Peace" (2006) for SATB Chorus and Piano

by Brett Scott, The Choral Journal

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Once again composer Gwyneth Walker presents a powerful composition that marries an expressive accompaniment with flowing vocal lines to present an important message in The Tree of Peace. The textual significance of this work hinges on the phrase "Love shall tread out the fre of anger, and n its ashes plant a tree of peace." This meaning is articulated in the repetition of the words "listen to one another," presented at first In various voices but brought together as all voices lead into the text "then shall all shackles fall.

The text for this work has been adapted from the Quaker poem, "O Brother Man," by John Greenleaf Whittier. The poem, previously set as a popular hymn has been adapted by Walker to embrace a more inclusive language.

This piece has been previously released for women's chorus (ECS divisi #6463) but now is available for mixed voices with chamber orchestra accompaniment. The chamber orchestra instrumentation is for ten wind players plus percussion and strings (full score #6940, parts #6941). Although the chamber orchestra option will serve many situations well, the piano accompaniment is an exc!ellent choice in that the composer presents an interesting and challenging piano score.

Suitable for advanced choirs, this work would be a wonderful addition to a program that looks at the human situation and seeks to share a message of peace. The rhythmic and harmonic texture will provide opportunity for singers to'focus their skills and exercise excellent technique.

From The Choral Journal, August 2008