Windswept (the trees)
a choral cycle in nine movements for SATB choir, woodwind quintet and piano on poetry by A.R. Ammons
Imagery of the wind is the primary common poetic thread throughout the various chosen poems of this twenty-five minute, nine-movement work entitled Windswept (the trees). A further poetic link of trees exists in the piece’s a cappella even-numbered movements, II, IV, VI and VIII. These even-numbered movements, grouped as a set under the title (the trees), may also be performed as an independent four-movement a cappella choral cycle. [N.B. (the trees) is published separately by Subito.]
All of the musical material in Windswept (the trees) is tightly linked. The Movement I instrumental introduction (which is recapitulated at the opening of Movement IX) and the subsequent opening choral statement both present the sequence of pitches that are the foundation of the entire piece: B-flat, E-flat, C, F, D, G, E-natural, A-flat, B-flat. Each consecutive movement of the piece uses the next pitch as its tonic note, on which modes and/or synthetic scales (that are used as compositional material) are created. Thus, Movement I (and IX) is based on the pitch B-flat, Movement II on the pitch E-flat, Movement III on the pitch C, and so on.
Composed during the summer and autumn of 1992 and warmly dedicated to The Oratorio Singers of Charlotte (North Carolina) and its late Director, Dr. Mary Nell Saunders (1948-1993), Windswept (the trees) is a choral cycle for choir, woodwind quintet and piano. It is based on the poetry of A.R. Ammons (1926-2001), a native of Whiteville, North Carolina who ranks among America’s finest poets. Ammons wrote over twenty volumes of poetry and was Goldwin Smith Professor of Poetry at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He was a member of the National Institute and Academy of Arts and Letters and his numerous awards included the Lannan Literary Award, the Bollingen Prize, a National Book Award and a MacArthur Prize Fellow Award.
Windswept (the trees) received its World Premiere by The Oratorio Singers of Charlotte (Catherine Comet, guest conductor) on 25 February 1994 in Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina