work details

The Ghost's Story

on a poem of Duncan Campbell Scott

  • Instrumentation: SATB, marimba
  • Completed: September 2016
  • Duration: 5 minutes
  • Texts: Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)
  • Commission and Dedication:

    Commissioned by and dedicated to Michael McGaghie and the 2016-2017 Macalester Chorale

  • Program Note:

    The Ghost’s Story is my third work for chorus and marimba. Where A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass explores the virtuosic capabilities of this combination and Alleluia is a work of extroverted exuberance, this work is concerned instead with the narrative demands of telling a story. Here, the marimba—playing a tune that is haunting and familiar, as if from a music box—acts as an agent of nostalgia and memory, connecting with our unnamed protagonist as he attempts to unravel the mystery of his spirited companion. And yet, the omnipresent specter is simply an illusion, as the final line of the poem so aptly portrays.

    I am honored to write this work for Michael McGaghie and the Macalester Chorale, and I happily dedicate this work to them, my second commission for the choral program at this historic Minnesota institution of higher education.

     

  • Text:

    The Ghost's Story
    by Duncan Campbell Scott

    All my life long I heard the step
    Of some one I would know,
    Break softly in upon my days
    And lightly come and go.

    A foot so brisk I said must bear
    A heart that's clean and clear;
    If that companion blithe would come,
    I should be happy here.

    But though I waited long and well,
    He never came at all,
    I grew aweary of the void,
    Even of the light foot-fall.

    From loneliness to loneliness
    I felt my spirit grope--
    At last I knew the uttermost,
    The loneliness of hope.

    And just upon the border land,
    Where flesh and spirit part,
    I knew the secret foot-fall was
    The beating of my heart.

  • Performances:
    • April 21, 2017 (premiere)
      Macalester Chorale
      Michael McGaghie, conductor
      Mairs Concert Hall - Macalester College - St. Paul, MN