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House Song to the East

  • 3rd movement of The Whole World is Coming
  • SATB chorus
  • 2:45
  • Text from the Navajo tradition
  • Difficulty rating (1-5): 4
  • Published by Alliance Music Publications, Inc. (catalog for PDF sample and purchase information)
  • Commissioned by the Plymouth State University Chamber Singers, Dan Perkins, conductor
  • Premiered by them on April 24, 1998
  • Finalist, 1998 Ithaca College Choral Composition Contest

The Whole World Is Coming was commissioned by the Plymouth State University Chamber Singers for their Summer 1998 tour of England.  The conductor of the ensemble, Dan Perkins, asked that I write a work which could serve as both a stand-alone concert piece and as incidental music for an educational theatre work on Native American life. I chose to set translated texts from four different Native American peoples. This piece and excerpts from it have been performed extensively by college, high school All-State, and regular high school choirs, and both performers and audiences have responded very positively.  The second movement, House Song to the East, has proven particularly popular, and was accepted for publication by Alliance Music after a performance by Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare at their National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored American Masterworks festival in January 2007.  For information about the other three movements of the work, click here.

House Song to the East

Far in the east, far below, there a house was made;
Delightful house.
God of Dawn, there his house was made;
Delightful house.
The Dawn, there his house was made;
Delightful house.
White Corn, there its house was made;
Delightful house.
Soft possessions, for them a house was made;
Delightful house.
Water in plenty, surrounding, for it a house was made;
Delightful house.
Corn pollen, for it a house was made;
Delightful house.
The ancients make their presence delightful;
Delightful house.

Before me, may it be delightful;
Behind me, may it be delightful;
Around me, may it be delightful;
Below me, may it be delightful;
Above me, may it be delightful;
All, may it be delightful.  

-- Navajo

The poem "House Song to the East" was taken from the anthology The Sky Clears, edited by A. Grove Day, and is used here by permission of its publisher, the University of Nebraska Press.

 

 

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