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!HOPE (2017)

For SSSAA choir

Commissioned by the Wellesley College Music Department for the Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Lisa Graham.

First performance by the Wellesley College Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Lisa Graham on 20 October 2017 on the occasion of the dedication of the Cynthia M. Sargent Concert Salon.

Duration: 8 minutes

ABOUT THE VOCAL PARTS:

The work is composed for five vocal parts (SSSAA) in order to allow for an elegant, musical "braid" of the E. E. Cummings text between the five parts. Each part is of equal importance.

The ranges of the five parts are:

Soprano 1: C4 to G5
Soprano 2: C4 to E5 [& one Bb5] - (There is only one Bb5 and it is notated as optional to have it sung by a soloist from any vocal part.)
Soprano 3: Ab3 to E5
Alto 1: G3 to E5
Alto 2: E3 to C#5 (There are only 3 low E's and they are all in the same musical phrase. There are no low F's and only a few low G's.)

A version for TTTBB is also available. It is identical to the SSSAA version except that it is transposed down one octave.

Text

!hope
E. E. Cummings

!hope
faith!
!life
love!

bells cry bells
(the sea of the sky is
ablaze with their
voices)all

shallbe and was
are drowned by
prodigious a
now of magnificent

sound(which
makes
this
whenworld squirm

turns
houses to
people and streets
into faces and cities

to eyes)drift
bells glide
seethe
glow

(undering proudly
humbly overing)
all bright all
things swim climb minds

(down
slowly swoop wholly
up
leaping through merciful

sunlight)to
burst 
in
a thunder of oneness

dream!
!joy
truth!
!soul

Program Note

Commissioned by the Wellesley College Music Department for the Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Lisa Graham, !HOPE is dedicated with admiration and gratitude to Cynthia M. Sargent. The world premiere took place on October 20, 2017 on the occasion of the dedication of the Cynthia M. Sargent Concert Salon.

An elegant, musical braid of the E. E. Cummings text between the five (SSSAA) equally important vocal parts starts very delicately on quiet and poetic perfect fifth. Gradually, across an 8-minute duration, the vocal colors and lyric imagery unfold with passionate energy to a radiant and intense climax.  This is followed by a peaceful, optimistic coda which brings !HOPE to a still, meditative culmination. Members of the Wellesley College Chamber Singers describe the song with these words: “reflective, grounded, ethereal, reminiscent, purposeful at how it takes its time to express the poem, suspension of time and place with a contrast of contraction and movement, glassy, fluid, and efflorescent.”

— Augusta Read Thomas

 

The Wellesley College Chamber Singers
 

Cynthia M. Sargent
 

Dr. Lisa Graham
Map

!HOPE map

To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.