work details

Change My Sorrow Into Song

  • Instrumentation: SATB and piano
  • Completed: May 2017
  • Duration: 4 1/2 minutes
  • Texts: Sara Teasdale, "Like barley bending"
  • Commission and Dedication:

    This piece was generously commissioned by a consortium of choruses to benefit Chorus America, the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that advances the choral field.

    AUGUSTANA CHOIR
    Jon Hurty, Conductor

    BACH SOCIETY OF DAYTON
    John Neely, Music Director

    CHORAL ARTS ENSEMBLE OF ROCHESTER
    Rick Kvam, Artistic Director

    HEARTLAND VOICES
    Dr. John G Slawson, Artistic Director/Principal Conductor

    LINN-BENTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE CHAMBER CHOIR
    Raymund Ocampo, Music Program Chair and Director of Choral Studies

    MASTERWORKS CHORALE (CA)
    Dr. Bryan Baker, Artistic Director

    NASHOBA VALLEY CHORALE
    Anne Watson Born, Director

    NEWVOICES
    Phillip A. Swan, Artistic Director

    PORTAGE CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL CHAMBER SINGERS
    Cynthia Hunter, Director of Choirs

    PROVIDENCE SINGERS
    Christine Noel, Artistic Director

    TEXAS LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY CHOIR
    Dr. Douglas R Boyer, Director, TLU School of Music & Choral Activities

    THE CHORAL PROJECT
    Daniel Hughes, Artistic Director

    THE MICHAEL O'NEAL SINGERS
    Michael O'Neal, Founder and Artistic Director

    UNIVERSITY UNITARIAN CHURCH
    Karen P. Thomas, Director of Music

  • Program Note:

    Change My Sorrow Into Song is a setting of a pastoral and optimistic poem by Sara Teasdale. She uses the image of barley bending in the breezes is compared to overcoming struggle and adversity. This move from pain to joy is echoed in the music, with the feisty and exuberant rhythms and harmonies of Latin jazz. These sunnier moments are contrasted with more startling dissonances between the tonic and leading tone at dramatic moments in the work. The piece ends faster than it began, with strong syncopated accents and a brightness and fire to the final chords.

  • Text:

    Like barley bending
    In low fields by the sea,
    Singing in hard wind
    Ceaselessly;

    Like barley bending
    And rising again,
    So would I, unbroken,
    Rise from pain;

    So would I softly,
    Day long, night long,
    Change my sorrow
    Into song.

    -- Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)