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Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of a performance of the first movement ("So Many Angels!") of this work by Bella Voce, Jennifer Tibben-Lembke, conductor.
Download an an MP3 file of the first movement ("So Many Angels!") of this work performed by the St. Mary's Women's Choir, Nancy Menk, conductor.
Download an an MP3 file of the second movement ("Walk That Valley") of this work performed by the St. Mary's Women's Choir, Nancy Menk, conductor.
Download an an MP3 file of the third movement ("Never Sit Down!") of this work performed by the Tapestry Women's Chorus, Dale Forey, conductor.
Download an an MP3 file of the first movement ("So Many Angels!") of this work performed by Bella Voce (Vermont), Dawn Willis conductor.
Download an an MP3 file of the second movement ("Walk That Valley") of this work performed by Cantabile, Charles Houmard, conductor with soloist Erma Gattie.
Download an an MP3 file of the third movement ("Never Sit Down!") of this work performed by Bella Voce, Jennifer Tibben-Lembke, conductor.
Download an an MP3 file of the third movement ("Never Sit Down!") of this work performed by the University of North Carolina Glee Club, Sue T. Klausmeyer, conductor.
Download a PDF file of the choral score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
The Spirit of Women is a set of three songs for Women's Chorus, a cappella. Each song was commissioned and premiered by a different Women's Chorus in the United States. Each song portrays women of strength and character. And, each song is based on a traditional American spiritual song.
So Many Angels! was commissioned by Bella Voce, Reno, Nevada, Jennifer Tibben-Lembke, Artistic Director & Conductor, premiere date: May 6, 2000.
Walk That Valley was commissioned by the Hilliard Darby High School Women's Chorus, Hilliard, Ohio, Lora Moore, Music Director, premiere date: October 15, 2002.
Never Sit Down! was commissioned for the 2003 California All-State Women's Honor Choir, Pasadena, California, Sigrid Johnson, Conductor, premiere date: March 15, 2003.
Many people feel the presence of angels in their lives. The angels are either unseen forces operating "behind the scenes." Or, perhaps they are embodied in the people whom we encounter in daily life.
So Many Angels! takes the concept one step further. Using the traditional song, "Angels Watching Over Me," this new setting envisions angels everywhere! They are certainly guarding and guiding. Moreover, they also seem to pop up at all times, in all places. They are playful, even flirtatious angels! And although they may become a bit too much at times, they are cherished. "Don't you ever stop watching over me, gal!"
Walk That Valley is based on the traditional American spiritual, "Lonesome Valley." New lyrics and harmonies have been added to the original. And, new musical interludes have been inserted. The focus in on the individual person encountering times of difficulty alone. ["Walk that lonesome valley by yourself."] There are moments of confusion and doubting. There are moments of fear and pain. Yet, by facing adversity, by oneself, one often finds the strength and faith for moving forward through life.
Solo voices often present the doubting and fears. The chorus responds with the guidance of "Walk that lonesome valley," and, later, "You'll find a faith to walk there beside you." This is a song of triumph, and of growth.
Never Sit Down! is a contemporary adaptation of the traditional song, "Sit Down, Sister." The new lyrics focus on the energy and celebration of women experiencing the freedom of equality. "I can't sit down, 'cause I just got my freedom. Gonna look around."
There are references to heroic women from the past who worked for women's rights: the Suffragettes, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth. These women "didn't sit down!" They were working for their freedom then, and for ours today.
The musical alterations to the original song include "blues" harmonies and hand-claps (for joy!). Two interludes are inserted into the middle of the song. One is a restless "walking bass" pattern sung by the altos, with the upper voices "movin' around" above. The other is the appearance of a would-be detractor trying to coax the women into stopping their work and sitting down. This is met with a very determined "No, I'll never sit down!"
Notes by the composer