My Chapel on the Hill




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Published on Dec 23, 2010

This piece was composed for the Welcome Christmas Carol composition competition for the vocal ensemble Vocal Essence. Shortly, it is about the comfort reminiscence can bring. In searching for a text to set with the music, I reflected upon my life and my own childhood; I realized that as I grew older, I found myself coming back to memories of a very peculiar tree I saw when I was a child.

It was a citrus tree that grew oranges, lemons and grapefruits on one and the same branch. I traveled there often with my mother, and throughout my life, memories of those visits retain a certain magic for me. The annual bell song spoken of in this work (performed here in an electronic realization) is a metaphor for the early memories of happy moments unique to each of us.

In the first stanza, the speaker acquaints us with his current disconsolate situation. There, we first hear of his memories of looking forward to hearing the bell song.

(As the speaker is singing about a bell song, one could call this metamusic, music about music, and as such, I tried to bring the focus away from the text and more toward the antiphonal bell responses by limiting the melodic diversity of the setting.)

The second stanza tells of the speaker's triumph over his circumstances and his eventual success at what he views as the expense of his sensitivity. Nonetheless, a pervading sense of emptiness forces his thoughts to return to memories of bell song. They sound in response.

The final stanza informs us of the reason for the speaker's dolor. He reiterates the personal importance of the bell song, and, underscoring the work's metamusical nature, for the first time, the speaker speaks in the present tense with regard to the bells, plaintively pleading for their final return.


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