work details


  • Instrumentation: SATB and SSA choruses and chamber orchestra
  • Completed: August 2017
  • Duration: 5 minutes
  • Texts: Text adapted by the composer from Amy Lowell's poem "The Congressional Library"
  • Audio:

      Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble (VAE), Cincinnati Children's Choir & Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra

      Craig Hella Johnson, conductor
      Recorded live, November 12, 2017
      World premiere performance

  • Score Preview:
  • Gallery:
    • Ovation at Carnegie Hall after the performance of A World Aglow with Jeremy Mims. 
      May 2019

  • Commission and Dedication:

    Commissioned by Craig Hella Johnson and the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble for the Rededication of Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio and premiered by VAE, the Cincinnati Children’s Choir (Robyn Lana, artistic director) and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra (Eckart Preu, music director) with Craig Hella Johnson, conducting

  • Instrumentation:

    SATB chorus, SSA chorus, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in Bb, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets in Bb, timpani, and strings (65432)

  • Published:

    Hal Leonard (Craig Hella Johnson Choral Series)

  • Text:

    Text Adapted by D. DiOrio from Amy Lowell's The Congressional Library

    We, the people,
    Of all races,
    Of all tongues,
    Of all traditions:

    Where else may we be so symbolized as in this hall?

    Observe the stars at nighttime.
    Count and recount the hues of clouds at sunset and at dawn.
    Name their colors.
    Name our colors.
    Name us.

    We are America,*
    Our vast, confused beauty,
    Our staring, restless speed of loveliness,
    Making grandeur out of profusion,
    Afraid of no incongruities,
    Sublime in our audacity.

    Our color is the vari-colored world.

    Where else will we be so symbolized as in this hall?
    We therefore name this space.
    We claim this space.
    We, the people,
    Of all races,
    Of all tongues, 
    Of all traditions,
    We proclaim in this space:
    For all of us.

    Our space radiates with our color,
    And our color is the vari-colored world,
    An old world always remaking, 
    Whirling and evermore beginning,
    A world aglow in the joy of all-colored light.


    *Alternate text for international performances: "We are a world aglow,"

  • Composer's Note:

    I was so honored to receive this commission—from my dear friend Craig Hella Johnson—for a work involving the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, the Cincinnati Children’s Choir, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. The work is meant to serve as a celebratory statement to rededicate Memorial Hall, a historic venue in the Over-the-Rhine community of Cincinnati.

    When Craig and I were searching for texts, we decided it was important to make a statement of unity for this space. Somewhat ironically, my final hours of composing this work took place at the same time as a vicious and terrible racist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. These words and this music are needed now more than ever. The message of inclusivity, equality, and equity of opportunity inherent in this poem is absolutely foundational to what it means to an American, a global citizen and a member of an international community committed to peace and prosperity.

    I offer this work and its optimism in the hope of a future free of hatred and bigotry.

  • Performances:
    • November 12, 2017 (premiere)
      Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Craig Hella Johnson, artistic director
      Cincinnati Children's Choir, Robyn Lana, artistic director and founder
      Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Eckart Preu, music director
      Rededication of Memorial Hall - Craig Hella Johnson, conductor
      Memorial Hall - Over-the-Rhine - Cincinnati, OH
    • July 17, 2018
      Craig Hella Johnson Festival Choir
      Craig Hella Johnson, conductor
      Sydney Opera House - Sydney, Australia
    • April 27, 2019
      CSULB University Choir and Bel Canto
      Joshua Palkki and Matthew Lyon Hazzard, conductors
      Los Altos United Methodist Church - Long Beach, CA
    • May 28, 2019
      Winthrop University Chorale / Mid-America Productions
      Jeremy Mims, conductor
      Carnegie Hall - New York, NY