Two Choruses

Two Choruses

The first of my two choruses was written in Oxford in 1964. The original version was for seven-part male-voice choir with a prominent part for the first counter-tenor. The revised version is for mixed voice (SSATTBB) and is a fourth higher in pitch.

The words are Caliban’s ‘Dream’ speech from The Tempest.
…the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not,
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices,
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

The second chorus, added in 1965-6, is linked by the theme of sleeping and waking although here anguish and torment contrast dramatically with the fantasy of the first chorus.
The text is by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! What sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.
I am gall. I am heartburn. God! Most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste; my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Self-yeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

The structure of the music was suggested by the structure of the poem

© 1967 T. Souster