NOW AVAILABLE FOR SATB! (for audio, view YouTube imbed below)
Commissioned by the New Jersey Gay Men's Chorus in 2010 for their 20th Anniversary Season, "A Burst of Song" is a short three movement choral cycle with a middle movement that can serve as a "stand alone" piece.
1. A Shower of Mercy
2. A Kiss of Blessing
3. Thee and Me
I selected texts that celebrate the healing aspects of song, especially as many members of this community chorus had lived through the AIDS epidemic and experienced great loss. Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was first and foremost a poet. The texts for "A Burst of Song" are primarily from his most famous volume: Gitanjali: Song Offerings. I aimed to illuminate the poet's heartfelt beliefs about the grace and power of song. While exploring Tagore and selecting texts, I found: "To the birds you gave songs, the birds gave you songs in return. You gave me only voice, yet asked for more, and I sing." At this same time I also happened to be reading about French composer, organist and ornithologist Oliver Messiaen, and his use of birdsong. This happy coincidence inspired the opening notes sounded by the piano in "A Shower of Mercy." This brief bird motif (descending minor 3rds) returns as transitional material in the last movement.
"I love "Burst of Song." It's beauty was above and beyond my expectations when we commissioned it to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the New Jersey Gay Men's Chorus. The three movements work wonderfully together to express the beautiful,poignant poetry of Tagore. I can't wait to perform it again!" — Steven Russell