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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Covington

Rise Up!

In this season of social distancing, I'm offering a series of virtual micro-concerts for anyone to enjoy. Every Wednesday, I’ll post one fine performance of notable 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 & translation and, when practical, a PDF copy of the score in case you want to follow along.


Listen to this week's music and see the score in the Listening Room.

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This week we'll be listening to the music of living American composer, Jake Runestad. Next week we'll travel to the 18th c. Venice. Then there's Brahms, Schubert, Hildegard, Bach...etc.! But I love Jake Runestad's music so much that it had to be included in an early post. I hope you like this piece half as much as I do!

Jake Runestad

is an is an award-winning composer of “highly imaginative” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald) musical works. “The Hope of Loving,” Runestad's first album of choral music, was nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY Award. Steeped in a belief that music has the power to initiate positive change, Jake creates musical works that are socially conscious and explore authentic human emotions and experiences.

Rise Up

was commissioned by the 2016 ACDA Women’s Choir Commission Consortium. (For more about participating in commissioning new works for women’s choirs, click HERE.)

Rise Up is about four and a half minutes long and scored for SSA with piano. Runestad takes a textural approach to his setting of these texts. The piece, in an A-B-A’ form, opens with the piano playing a soft but energetic pentatonic triplet ostinato. The voices enter one by one, singing, “Rise up!” This section becomes gradually more vigorous with the completion of the quote, “Rise up! There shall never be another season of silence.”

At measure 47, there's a shift in tonality and texture. Voices and accompaniment become sustained and ethereal, with the words, “Pray every single second of your life, not on your knees, but with your work.”

At measure 67, the piano triplets return with a reiteration of the opening text. As in the beginning, this section starts rather subtly. The vocal lines gradually grow in complexity with each voice overlapping their chanting of “rise up” as the tessitura ascends, to create an overwhelming echo of the inspiring phrase, “Rise up!” The piece finally comes to a beautiful, emotional climax. The overall effect of text and music is both a call to action and an encouragement with an optimistic and confident tone.

This Excellent Performance

is by the Angelica Cantati Treble Singers, Minneapolis-St. Paul, conducted by Philip Brown.

The Text

is taken from the writings of Susan B. Anthony who championed temperance, abolition, the rights of labor, equal pay for equal work, and became one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement.

Rise up!

There shall never be another season of silence.

Deepen your sympathy then convert it to action.

Pray every single second of your life,

not on your knees but with your work.

Think your best thoughts,

speak your best words,

do your best work.

There is so much yet to be done.

Rise up!

- From the speeches and writings by Susan B. Anthony


If you’re interested in hearing more of Jake Runstad’s music, follow this link to another very lovely and interesting piece for women’s voices:

"Sing Wearing the Sky"

Next Week

Something Baroque for Empowered Women! We turn to the Ospidale of 18th c. Venice!!

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Mitchell Covington is an award-winning composer and conductor who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent choral clinician and adjudicator for choir competitions and festivals. He has led choir tours and festivals throughout Europe. Mr. Covington has several choral compositions in print with major U.S publishers and his music has been performed by choirs throughout the U.S and Europe. Mr. Covington is the Founding Artistic Director of Voci Women's Vocal Ensemble.

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