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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Covington

The Peace of Wild Things

In this season of social distancing, I'm offering a series of virtual micro-concerts for anyone to enjoy. On the first Wednesday of every month, 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 3-5 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.

About the Music

The Peace of Wild Things, written in 2006, is scored for SSAA and piano with some divsi. Many passages feature choral unison which gives the piece a distinctive and arresting quality. The piece is characterized by a sensuous melodies, sonorous piano chords and a dynamic range that is quite broad and dramatic, yet the overall effect of the piece is one of peace and health. This work is “dedicated to the welfare of all beings.”


Listen to the music HERE

View the score HERE


About the Composer

Joan Szymko (b. 1957) is an American composer and choral conductor. She has led choirs in the Pacific Northwest for over 25 years and has a significant body of choral work, especially literature for women’s voices. Lyricism, rhythmic intensity and attention to the text are hallmarks of Szymko’s distinctive choral writing.

About this Performance

Performed by The Milwaukee Choral Artists, Sharon Hansen, Music Director, on October 23, 2010 at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, Wauwatosa.

The Text

This piece is based on a beautiful poem by Kentuckian Wendell Berry (b. 1934.) Berry is the author of more than 30 books of poetry, essays and novels. He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Cover Image

The Equatorial Jungle Lush Plants Wild Animals (1909) Painting, by Henri Rousseau

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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 adjudicator for choir competitions and festivals and has led choir tours and festivals throughout Europe. Mr. Covington has several choral compos tions 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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