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  • Mitchell Covington

Day Break

VMC is Virtual Micro Concerts. Every Wednesday, I’ll post one fine performance of notable choral music for women's voices. The selections and performing groups will be varied and eclectic. Most will be in the 3-4 minute range. Each post will include an audio recording, brief notes, text and translation and, when practical, a PDF copy of the score.


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Day Break

I thought it would be fitting to start things off with a piece called Day Break.


Listen to the music and see the score in the Listening Room.

The Password is:

music


Day Break is the percussive and fast-paced first movement of a larger work called, Earth Songs, by American composer, Stephen Paulus. It’s written for SSA and percussion and lasts about 3 minutes. Earth Songs was commissioned and premiered by the Young Singers of Callonwold (Atlanta, GA) in 1997. The work has 3 movements: 1. Day Break, 2. Sea and Sky, 3. Wind and Sun. All three movements draw their texts from the Mudbara Tribe of Wave Hill in Northern Australia.

This Performance was recorded in a live concert by Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble in 2012.

- Find out more about Voci.

The Text

The day breaks.

The first rays of the rising sun, stretching her arms.

Daylight breaking as the sun rises to her feet.

Sun rising, scattering the darkness,

Lighting up the land with disk shining, bringing daylight.

People are talking, moving about, feeling the warmth.

Burning through the gorge she rises walking westward,

Wearing her waistband of human hair.

She shines on the blossoming coolibah tree,

with its sprawling roots, its branches spreading.

She shines!

Day breaks.

The Composer

Stephen Paulus (1949-2014) was a Grammy winning composer, best known for his operas and choral music. His style is essentially tonal and melodic.

Paulus wrote over 150 works for chorus ranging from his Holocaust oratorio, To Be Certain of the Dawn, to the poignant anthem, "Pilgrims' Hymn," which was sung at the funerals of U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. (Go here for a nice recording of Pilgrim’s Hymn.)

Paulus’ choral music comprises his most diverse body of work, ranging from elaborate multi-part works like Visions from Hildegard to brief anthems and a cappella motets. His choral works have been performed and recorded by such groups as the New York Choral Society, L.A. Master Chorale, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Robert Shaw Festival Singers, the Chicago Master Singers and Dale Warland Singers.

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