for SSATB choir and piano; 4.5’ (2013)
poetry: Rolf Jacobsen
(commissioned by the Santa Clara University Chamber Singers)
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Rolf Jacobsen’s lovely poem “Just Delicate Needles” is a beautiful, fleeting work that focuses on how little light there is in the world compared to the endless expanse of darkness that swallows everything. “So let’s be gentle with it / cherish it” the poem asks us, to hold on to those delicate needles of light surrounded by ever-encroaching darkness. My setting of this stunning text revolves around a single pitch: A-natural, hanging in the air throughout the piece. Both the choir and the piano swirl around that note, creating graceful musical phrases that are drawn to that A-natural like moths to a flame. Dissonances, strange trilling figures, distantly-related minor keys… these all work their way into those melodic lines, infiltrating the loveliness of those light textures with darker sounds. But the A-natural and the beauty of choral singing persist through it all, holding on.