for SATB chorus with percussion
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Commissioned by Estacada High School Concert Choir for Disneyland performance April 2016.
This song is the first in a song cycle of pieces I composed using text from a 19th century traditional Polish poem. The poem is about a young mountain man from the Mazury region of Poland. He is coming down to the village to take his girl away with him. He brings her a crown made of rosemary. The young man arrives at the girl’s home late in the night. The young girl informs him that her mother has told her not to go out with boys. But the young man tells her not to fear, come get on my horse and we will ride to far away countries where the customs are different and there we will live together.
The first song introduces us to the mountain man not with a traditional folk melody, but with a more contemporary 21st century Polish Gypsy sound. The entire piece is written in the C Phrygian mode which gives the listener intrigue and establishes the ethnic vibe. There is a sense of urgency and short phrases that compel the audience to wait for the tension to release. The mountain man is traveling on horseback, carrying the crown of flowers so carefully for his love. The middle section opens up as the tempo slows to convey the importance that the crown of rosemary holds. According to an old Polish tradition before a wedding all the girls would take part in weaving a crown of rosemary that they would give to the soon to be bride. It would be the last time in her life that she would wear this mark of the single woman. Great care and spirit was put into the making of the crown. It is important to take a moment to realize the significance of the young man bringing his girl the crown. The faster and faster he rides to meet her the realization that she will no longer be a single woman resonates within us. The piece gradually increases tempo until it is a cacophony of voices all entering and exiting at different times. This is meant to symbolize the girl’s thoughts. She is torn by what her mother wants, what her love wants, and what her heart is telling her. Suddenly it all stops. There is a pause of silence filled with thought. Then a soft, but clear voice emerges. She is alone and with a peaceful cry she releases vocally, all her feelings in a traditional chant like melody. No words need to be spoke, this says it all. And so he rides as she sings a song of release and her inner struggle. This is the descant part in the last section. The piece ends when he arrives at her door in the night.
Translation of Polish Text:
Hey, hey the top of the mountain
goes the mazury
goes goes the mazury man
carrying carrying me a crown of flowers
He arrived at night