Zane Fiala, artistic director
First-prize winner of the International Orange Chorale of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Composer Competition
I learned of the International Orange Chorale of San Francisco Choral Composition Competition from Jeremy Faust, who helped to found the ensemble in 2003. I was very privileged to conduct this fine chorus during the Chorus America Conducting Master Class with Ragnar Bohlin held at the National Conference in San Francisco in June 2011. Naturally, I felt a strong urge to write for the ensemble and contribute a piece to the competition.
The title of the work, Chrysopylae, comes from the journal of John C. Frémont who wrote in 1846: “To this Gate I gave the name of "Chrysopylae", or "Golden Gate"; for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn." I do not set this text in the work, but instead I rely on four other texts that deal with this landmark and its history: an excerpt from the poem “Gold!” by British poet Thomas Hood—which was printed in the San Francisco business directory and mercantile guide for 1864-1865—; two excerpts from poems by the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge Joseph Baermann Strauss that were written upon the completion of the Bridge in 1937; and a short Latin phrase by Prudentius from the late 4th century that serves as a general acclamation and frame for the other texts. My musical setting is bold, colorful, and forthright, a suitable mirror in sound for the architecture and majesty of this mighty overpass.