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Erkel Overture

Here is the recording of my "Erkel Overture" for the Hungarian State Opera House. Video made and edited by Gianluca Verlingieri

“Azaan” an Islamic Prayer for Organ

Commissioned by concert organist Katelyn Emerson in 2016, I decided to compose my latest organ piece on an Islamic theme. I am contemplating the possibility to expanding into an "Islamic Suite" for organ.

"Azaan" is the Islamic call to prayer, sung five times a day to remind Muslims of the obligatory prayers each day. I was drawn to the ornamented, improvised nature of this type of singing that often has very high emotional and expressive power. My piece is not based on any particular azaan, rather, it captures its fanfare-like character at the opening, its passion and emotional drive in the middle section.

I was also tremendously inspired by the 11th century Syrian poet, Abu Al-Ma'arri who wrote verses that are just as relevant today as were a thousand year ago!

Traditions come from the past, of high import if they be True; Ay, but weak is the chain of those who warrant their truth. Consult thy reason and let perdition take others all: Of all the conference Reason best will counsel and guide. A little doubt is better than total credulity: -- Al-Ma'arri   Here is a preview recording of my piece:

Spectrum Symphony gives US premiere of Triple Concerto

Spectrum Symphony of New York gives NYC premiere of my Triple Concerto for Harp, Cimbalom and Guitar

Friday, March 10th, 2017, 7:30 pm

Saint Peter's Church 619 Lexington Ave, New York, New York. Freewill offering! More Info

Heart of Hungary

Bálint Karosi: Concerto for Harp, Guitar, Cimbalom, and Orchestra (2016) Mélanie Genin, Harp Nilko Guarin Andreas, Guitar Nick Tolle, Cimbalom Ernst von Dohnányi: Concertino for Harp and Chamber Orchestra Mélanie Genin, Harp And more! David A. Grunberg, Conductor

Awestruck, Transcendent, Epic Grandeur from the Spectrum Symphony

One of the most transcendent concerts of 2016 happened Friday night at St. Peter’s Church in midtown, where the Spectrum Symphony played not one but two rare concertos for organ and orchestra by Poulenc and Balint Karosi, the latter a world premiere. First of all, beyond the famous Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, there isn’t much organ repertoire that incorporates much of anything other than brass – simply because church organs are loud. And paradoxically, to mute the organ as a concerto instrument would make it redundant: you can get “quiet organ” with woodwinds. So this show was doubly auspicious, incorporating both the Poulenc Concerto for Orchestra, Strings and Timpani in G along with works by Bach, Mendelssohn and the exhilarating, rivetingly dynamic Karosi Concerto No. 2 for Organ, Percussion and Strings, with the composer himself in the console. Conductor David Grunberg, who is really on a roll programming obscure works that deserve to be vastly better known, was a calmly poised, assured presence and had the group on their toes – as they had to be. Another problematic issue with music for pipe organ and other instruments, from both a compositional and performance prespective, is the sonic decay. Not only do you have to take your time with this kind of music, you have to be minutely attuned to echo effects so that the organ and ensemble aren’t stepping all over each other. The acoustics at this space happen to be on the dry side, which worked to the musicians’ advantage. The strings opened by giving a lively, Vivaldiesque flair to the overture from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No, 3, BWV 1068, a clever bit of programming since the eight-part Poulenc suite – performed as an integral whole – opens with a robust shout-out to Bach before going off in all sorts of clever directions. Organist Janos Palur parsed the piece with a deliberate, carefully crafted approach well-suited to its innumerable shifts from one idiom to another, from the baroque, to vividly lingering Romanticism, to a robust, completely unexpected dance and more astringent tonalities. Poulenc’s genius in assembling the piece came through in how integrally the organist and ensemble played it: both were clearly audible and rewardingly supportive of each other when in unison, and when not, transitions between solo organ and the strings were confidently fluid and natural. As the piece unwound, it took on a Gil Evans-like sweep and lustre, the lowest pedals and bass paired with sonic cirrus clouds floating serenely above the dark river underneath. Percussionist Charles Kiger got even more of a workout with the Karosi premiere than he did with the Poulenc. Switching seamlessly from one instrument to another, his vibraphone amplified uneasy pointillisms that a different composer might have arranged for glockenspiel. Otherwise, his terse kettledrum accents bolstered Karosi’s stygian pedal undercurrents, and his mighty, crescendoing washes on the gongs provided the night’s most spine-tingling, thundering crescendos. Yet for all its towering, epic grandeur, the concerto turned out to be stunningly subtle. Seemingly modeled on the architecture if not the melodies of the Poulenc, Karosi quickly quoted from the same Bach riff that Poulenc used and then worked his way through a completely different and even more adventurously multistylistic tour de force. There were allusions to the haunted atmospherics of Jehan Alain, the austere glimmer of Naji Hakim, the macabre cascades of Louis Vierne, and finally and most conclusively, the otherworldly, awestruck terror of Messiaen. But ultimately, the suite is its own animal – and vaults Karosi into the front ranks of global composers. It’s almost embarrassing to admit not being familiar with his work prior to this concert. Not only is this guy good, he’s John Adams good. Let’s hope for vastly more from him in the years and decades to come. And the Spectrum Symphony return to their new home at St. Peter’s on January 27 at 7:30 PM with a Mozart birthday party celebration featuring his “Prague” Symphony No. 28,
Published by: https://newyorkmusicdaily.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/spectrumnov/

Appointment as Composition Teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall

I am privileged to have been appointed as a composition teacher at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut as of October 1st, 2016. The school has a thriving music program, with individual instrumental lessons, music history and theory class instructions, two choruses and a symphony orchestra that toured and concertized at prestigious venus such as Carnegie Hall. I will be teaching private composition classes as well as being one of the teachers available for harpsichord and organ instruction. I am very much looking forward to help a new generation of music-loving young adults.   https://www.choate.edu

Commission for the Hungarian State Opera House

I am honored to have been asked by the Hungarian State Opera House to write a Festival Overture for their 2017 New Year Opening Gala Concert. The National Philharmonic Society's Orchestra is conducted by Pinchas Steinberg. January 1, 2017 Hungarian State Opera House at 7 :30 p.m.

Cegled

Karosi Bálint múlt vasárnapi koncertjéről mondták. "Minden egyes alkalommal hálás vagyok a lehetőségért, hogy ilyen zenei élményben lehet részem! Köszönöm" "a tegnapi orgona koncert...egyszerűen zseniális művész Karosi Bálint, imádtam,....bár a többi orgona művészt is imádom, mindenkinek meg van a stílusa, egyénisége, mindegyikük...hm, valahogy más oldalról közelítik meg a műveket, ezért is elgondolkodtató az orgonazene.... csak így egyszerűen fogalmazva, egyszerű hallgatóként."
"Fantasztikus élmény volt! Hálásan köszönöm, hogy a részese lehettem!" "Ilyen szerénységgel is régen találkoztam... pedig lenne mire büszkének lennie Karosi Bálintnak /már ha csak az elért eredményeit, megszerzett tudását nézzük is/! Mert csodálatos volt a koncert - az erős technikai tudás mellett azok a finom hangok, és a hatalmas energia - a legszebb gondolatokat ültette a fejünkbe... Köszönjük az élményt!" 14102914_1500059950019599_3861271387585493623_o

Karosi Bálint és Laczkó Bálint új művei és de Falla-átiratokat mutat be a formabontó formáció április 28-án a Zeneakadémián.

Miként nevük is jelzi, Musiciens Libres tagjai a zenei szabadság letéteményesei. Hisznek abban, hogy nincsenek falak a különböző stílusok között, hogy a klasszikus, a kortárs, a jazz, vagy a népzene egyaránt maradandó értéket képvisel. A kilenctagú zenekar hazánk talán legmodernebb, legformabontóbb együttese, ami mindig valami meglepőt, valami egészen különlegeset nyújt. Fiatalos lendületük és végtelen fantáziájuk új értelmet ad a zenetörténet akár több száz éves alkotásainak is. Tagjai generációjuk legjobbjai, találunk köztük jazz-énekest, népi cimbalmost, és jópár klasszikus zenészt. Tavaly decemberi reklámfilm-forgatással egybekötött nagysikerű klip-koncertjük után ezúttal a a Liszt Ferenc téri zenepalota Solti Termében lépnek újra pódiumra a Zeneakadémia Koncertközpont „A tehetség kötelez" című sorozatában, mely minden félévben több zeneakadémista növendéknek vagy zeneakadémiai kötődésű együttesnek kínál fellépési lehetőséget.

Musiciens Libres (forrás: Zeneakadémia)

Musiciens Libres (forrás: Zeneakadémia)

A Musiciens Libres műsora ezúttal minden eddiginél különlegesebb és érdekesebb lesz, hiszen két kortárs darab bemutatójára is sor kerül az est folyamán. Az új művekről és a felkészülésről Környei Miklós gitárművész, a Musiciens Libres  alapítója elmondta: „Karosi Bálint Hármasverseny cimbalomra, gitárra és hárfára című darabja nyitja majd a koncertet. Ez egy teljesen egyedülálló mű, hiszen ilyen felállásra még nem született darab a zeneirodalomban. Mivel nagyobb apparátusra készült, előadásában az Animae Musicae Kamarazenekar is közreműködik, akikkel ez lesz az első közös munkánk. A szólisták a Musiciens Libres tagjai lesznek: Razvaljajeva Anasztázia, Szalai András, és jómagam." A második műsorszám szerzője a 24 éves Laczkó Bálint, a Zeneakadémia tavalyi zeneszerzőversenyének díjazottja. Times of Change II című művét kifejezetten erre az alkalomra írta. „A Times Of Change II  egy korábbi művem alapötletére épül, amely egy olyan eljáráson alapul, mely a zenei anyag fokozatos átalakulását eredményezi, egy spektrumot, útvonalat létrehozva két homogén anyagállapot között. Az ennek segítségével elkészült darab azután válaszutat képezett: egy az átalakulást váratlan eseményekkel meg-megszakító, drámai útvonalat - és egy egyenletesebb folyású, de heterogénebb összetételű, kevésbé drámai lejtésű ösvényt. A Times Of Change IIa drámai változat" - mondta el érdeklődésünkre a fiatal komponista. „Természetesen a szerzők is részt vesznek a felkészülési folyamatban, bár ez csak nehezen megoldható, hiszen Laczkó Bálint jelenleg Rómában tanul, Karosi Bálint pedig Bostonban él. A koncert előtti utolsó próbaidőszakra mindketten hazautaznak, hogy belevágjunk a közös munkába" - tette hozzá Környei Miklós.

Környei Miklós (fotó: Raffay Zsófi, forrás: Zeneakadémia)

Környei Miklós (fotó: Raffay Zsófi, forrás: Zeneakadémia)

A két kortárs darab után a Musiciens Libres előadóművészei alkotói oldalukról is megmutatkoznak, hiszen a Richard Strauss-kortárs spanyolországi zeneszerző, Manuel de Falla műveiből az együttes tagjai által készített átiratokat szólaltatnak meg. „Pregun Tamás és én gyakran készítünk átiratokat az együttes számára. Most de Falla műveiből, például A bűvös szerelemből, vagy A háromszögletű kalapból készített átiratainkból válogatunk. Duókkal kezdünk, triókkal folytatjuk, és egy szépen felépített, egyre sűrűsödő zenei folyamat végén szólal majd meg a teljes zenekar" - árulta el érdeklődésünkre az összeállításról Környei Miklós, aki az április 28-ai koncertet követően pódiumbeszélgetés keretében oszt meg további kulisszatitkait az együttesről és a koncertről.

Rock-solid But Not Maniacal

JANUARY 26, 2015

Rock-solid But Not Maniacal

by 

Balint Karosi

Balint Karosi

Though the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s “Magyar Madness” certainly delivered on the first word by presenting four works of Hungarian or Hungarian-descended composers including two premieres at Jordan Hall on Friday, we’ll give BMOP a pass on “Madness,” as the alliterative sobriquet was oxymoronic considering the event’s rock-solidity.

Bálint Karosi’s Existentia—In Memory of Sándor Weöres, a world premiere of a three-movement work gave the composer’s reactions to three poems Weöres (1913-89) wrote on the progress of life, from “pre-existence” (i.e., in the womb), existence as the unfolding of a life, and “post-existence,” a kind of posthumous contemplation of what it all amounts to. While the first two movements are purely orchestral, the last featured mezzo Stephanie Kacoyanis singing Weöres’s text most affectingly and sonorously (note to concertgoers: the program got the singer’s ID wrong, a datum which we came by on the highest authority, as Kacoyanis’s parents were sitting next to us).

A young man with whose work we were unfamiliar, Karosi came to the US after study in his native Budapest and in Geneva, to pursue graduate programs at Oberlin and Yale. He may still be best known as a virtuoso organist who specializes in classical improvisation. His music is solidly grounded in current neo-tonal idioms, with influences from minimalism but certainly not wedded to them. In the pre-concert panel discussion that is a constant feature of BMOP programming, Karosi expressed some ambivalence about writing music about, rather than setting, texts, and the whole fraught history of program music. Of the three movements, he said, only the second really attempted to “depict” the underlying concept, in which his melodic line evolved and deepened in keeping with the progress of life. The dirty little secret of program music, though, is that no program will make bad music seem palatable, and good music stands on its own and needs no extramusical justification. Karosi needn’t have fretted; his work sounded very well—inchoate gathering of threads in the first movement, a little reminiscent of Haydn’s “chaos” in The Creation; a rhythmically perky underlayment in the second movement (herein of the minimalist ostinati of Adams et al.) somewhat undermined by dark spookiness in the lower strings; and an appropriately thoughtful finale fitted out with a Hungarian folk tune adumbrated in the second movement. Conductor Gil Rose kept all the forces well balanced and never let the forward momentum flag.

Karosi applied several layers of Hungarianness to this work, with orchestration that included the signature cembalo, the use of native musical materials and, finally, himself, dressed for the part in a brocaded black suit he informed us was called a “bocskay” suit, used a century ago as a student uniform and latterly as a kind of nationalistic dress wear in place of a tuxedo (you can see one, minus the protruding white collar and tab tie Karosi sported, here, and a picture of young Béla Bartók in a more subdued version here). For some reason, it is named for Prince István (Stephen) Bocskai (or Bocskay) of Transylvania, a 16th century noble who took the side of the Calvinists, thereby earning the enmity of both the Ottomans and the Habsburgs.

The cram-packed program closed its first half with György Ligeti’s 1992 Violin Concerto, with Gabriela Diaz as soloist. Diaz, the youngest of a remarkable family of string players and well known locally as a peripatetic chamber artist, is no stranger to this work, having performed it as an NEC student nearly 12 years ago (you can find the video here), and for the BMOP performance, as anticipated by the composer’s instructions, she provided her own cadenza, following in the footsteps of its first performer, Saschko Gawriloff, and others including John Zorn. Written originally in 1990 as a three-movement work, it grew to five in subsequent iterations. As befits a work from Ligeti’s late period, it’s a stylistic gallimaufry and displays Ligeti’s interest in non-standard tunings: some of the strings are tuned to just intonation, and the composer added instruments to the mix, such as ocarinas and high recorders, that permit microtonal inflections. Thus the soloist, tuned at standard pitch and playing in tempered tuning, contrasts with something like a concertino in “off” tuning to produce eerie sonic auras. The prelude first movement (hat tip to Max Bruch?) begins with gentle pulsations in harmonics against the scordatura strings, developing to something like a moto perpetuo before fading to black. The second movement is a lushly lyrical set of variations on a theme that Ligeti evidently liked a lot, from his early Musica Ricercara but reused in his Six Bagatelles for wind quintet and in his horn trio; it features the same motif that opens Shostakovich’s C minor prelude and fugue, op. 87 No. 20. To this movement Diaz brought a sultry cantilena to her solos and in duet with viola, before the raucous ocarinas and recorders interrupt. Ligeti conjures some remarkable and subtle timbres with his unconventional ensemble. The central but very brief intermezzo begins with a floating solo line with massed harmonics in accompaniment; only gradually does the underlying presto tempo become apparent. The fourth movement, a passacaglia, features a theme based on a descending bass line and a solo part that begins from near inaudibility, rising eventually to a loud, somewhat abrupt, ending. The finale pits a brusque soloist against an orchestral melody (then vice versa). The microtonal instruments often give off hints of the “village band” then suppressed by anguished squeals. A brief lyrical passage leads to the cadenza, which cycles through themes from earlier in the work (Diaz’s lingered, quite appropriately, on the lyric theme from the second movement before a headlong rush, with ample attention to harmonics, pizzicato and other bravura effects), and just a few orchestral notes to finish.

Diaz is a performer of enormous intelligence, sensitivity and technical panache, and she brought that all this to bear on this fiercely difficult concerto. For its part, the concerto, though undoubtedly a masterpiece, did not fully reciprocate, and for this we don’t fault Rose. Apart from the cadenza and the occasional solo line peeping through, much of the writing, as is often the case in modern music, kept the soloist on a short leash, participating in the fabric of the work but not clearly standing out from it, so that the visual evidence of the soloist’s input is not matched by the aural output. This despite Ligeti’s many obvious attempts to invoke the classical-romantic traditions of concerto writing, including the ad-lib cadenza (and the shortness of the orchestra’s conclusion after it). Go figure.

The second half of the program began with Bartók’s Falun (Three Village Scenes) from 1926, his orchestration of three of seven folk-tune settings for women’s voices and piano. These are colorful, jangly and sometimes raw evocations of village life from Slovakia (an irony: traditionally, there is little love lost between Hungarians and Slovakians, who have a fraught history of sometimes forced union and angry separation), comprising a wedding song that alternates peppy interpolations into a surprisingly sober matrix (sample stanza: “I’m a rose, a rose,/but only when I’m single./When I have a husband,/petals drop and shrivel”), a lullaby whose complex rhythms would have made rocking the cradle a challenge, and whose sinister undertones in the bass add emotional complexity, and a muscular, “boyz ‘n the ‘hood” Lad’s Dance full of jumpy off-beat accents and a hint of jazziness. The women’s vocal group Lorelei Ensemble added sure intonation, precise vocalization (don’t ask us about their Hungarian pronunciation!) and lively and engaged faces and bodies to their supple and well-projected sound. Rose lavished attention on Bartók’s vivid orchestral effects.

Ligeti in file photo

Ligeti in file photo

Last came the other premiere, The Debrecen Passion by Kati Agócs, a Canadian of half-Hungarian-extraction who now teaches at New England Conservatory and has garnered a good deal of attention. Her work is not a passion in the sense of the oratorio-sized works of Bach and other Baroque composers, or in the revived style of Penderecki’s, but is a setting of seven lyric-sized texts, three by Hungarian poet, novelist and literary historian Szilárd Borbély (1964-2014; he committed suicide in Debrecen, where he had lived and worked), two contemplations of Mary, one Latin the other Hungarian, one Kabbalistic prayer and one medieval Georgian hymn. In these settings Agócs examines passions of several sorts, the fragility of love, the greatness of God, and, oh yes, the death of Jesus. In the panel discussion, Agócs said that her funding source, the Jebediah Foundation, had given her carte blanche to create as big and as long a work as she felt like, and this 20-plus-minute piece (her longest to date) is fitted out with impressive orchestral forces, plus the Lorelei singers. While far from inaccessible, her writing is intricate and layered. Much of the choral treatment draws on earlier Ligeti techniques of “micro-polyphony,” densely packed, close dissonant harmony that, in the vocal writing, sounded ravishingly beautiful. Setting modern poetry can be tricky, and Borbély’s was not always easy to parse; Agócs wisely avoided overt word-painting. The orchestral writing was fluent and often did its job well of adding emotional depth to the texts and the vocal lines; in two instances there were orchestral interludes of great power and beauty, and the final Georgian hymn concludes (save a final blast and morendo from the orchestra) in a modally inflected harmony that evokes Alan Hovhaness (okay, he was Armenian, not Georgian, but musically it’s pretty close).

First hearings of new works are seldom a sufficient basis for informed analysis, especially for such a complicated piece; the Karosi was much less demanding in its ambitions. While there was much attractive music here, which warrant further listening if possible, sometimes it felt as if each song followed the same musical trajectory of slow build, big climax, soft landing, so a little more variety might have been welcome. No complaints at all with Lorelei or the orchestra.

 See related interview here.

Existentia premiered by BMOP on January 24

My orchestra piece "Existentia" is premiered by BMOP in Jordan Hall on January 24. To purchase tickets go to the BMOP webpage.

Existentia is a symphonic poem in three movements, inspired by three short poems by Sándor Weöres. I attempt to reflect the qualities I most appreciate in his works: rhythm, lyricism, simple forms and his sensitivity to the unique sonorities of the Hungarian language. The cimbalom is prominently featured in all movements, and a Transylvanian folk song from Gyimes appears in the second and third movements. The folk melody is heard briefly towards the end of “Existantia” and is featured in its original form in “Post Existentia,” a movement is based on the opening motive of Liszt’s last symphonic poem “From the Craddle to the Grave.” The concluding movement also features a solo violin and a soprano quoting the words of Post-existentia.

Weöres Sándor: Existentia

I. PRAE-EXISTENTIA


Isten gondol öröktől fogva téged,
elméjében léted mint szikla áll.
Mi ehhez mérve habfodornyi élted?
És mit változtat rajtad a halál?





To God you are a thought for eternity, your existence a steady rock. But here your life is like the sea foam.  What could death then bring you?

II. EXISTENTIA 


Felébredek: nem az vagyok, ki voltam.
Elalszom: holnap megint más leszek.
De élve, holtan, utcán, kriptaboltban
én emlékezem és én feledek.





I wake up, I am not who I was. I fall asleep, tomorrow I will be different/someone else. But alive, dead, on the streets and in the crypt, I remember and I forget.

III. POST-EXISTENTIA


Nem nyughatsz addig, se halva, se élve,
míg át nem szőtted árnyad és szined
a szerelem végtelen szőttesébe, a béke aztán lesz csak a tied.

You will not rest, dead or alive until you saw your shade and color into the eternal homespun of love. Peace will only be with you then.

Featured folk tune:

KELET FELE VAN EGY HOMÁLY
(Gyimesi lassú Magyaros folk tune)
 
Kelet fele van egy homály
Az én rózsám allatta vár
Gyere ki rózsám alóla
Megver az esö alatta
(Haj da da da)

 Ölelnélek egy óráig
Úgysem látlak már sokáig
Gyere ide jer ide hogy üljek az ölödbe
Hogy nézzek a két ragyogó szemedbe
(Haj da da da) 

A rózsamhoz elkerülek
A hegyeken fölkereslek
Minnél inkább tiltnak töled
Annál inkább szólok véled
(Haj da da da)

 Rough translation: 
There is a cloud in the East
My rose is waiting for me beneath
Come away my rose
Lest the rain lash against you
(Haj da da da)

I would hug you for an hour
I won’t see you for much longer
Come here, right here, so I may sit on your lap
So I may look into your brilliant eyes
(Haj da da da)

 To my rose I would go
I seek you in the mountains
The more they forbid us
The more I speak of you
(Haj da da da)

Instrumentation:

 Soprano Solo
Flute, change to piccolo
Oboe
Clar I in Bb
Clar II change to Bass Clarinet and Eb
Bassoon
Horn in F
Trumpet
Tenor Trombone 
Percussion I:
Vibraphone, Cymbals, Bass Drums, Xylo, Glockenspiel, Crotales, Tam-Tam, 2 timpani
Percussion II:
Cimbalom, susp. cymbal
Harp
Celesta
Violin I-II
Viola
Cello
Double Bass

Triple Concerto

I have started working on a triple concerto for an unusual combination of instruments: the Hungarian cimbalom, guitar and harp for Musiciens Libres, a new  Hungarian chamber ensemble. The premier is scheduled for April, 2015 at the Liszt Concert Center in Budapest.

Dancescapes, a new Piece for Orchestra

Dancescapes is my third large-scale orchestral work next to my violin concerto and organ concerto, and the only one that does not require a soloist. I am particularly excited about the melodic content, the harmonic and rhythmic variety I have explored in this 13 minute-long piece.

Listen to my new cantata “Words of Beginning”

Words of Beginning received its second performance at the Yale School of Music as part of the New Music New Have Series last week. I am particularly blessed to have friends who came and performed my piece from Boston together with two wonderful soloists from the Yale Opera, Jamilyn White, soprano and Brian Vu, baritone along with the Yale New Music New Haven orchestra on November 14. They did a wonderful job performing this difficult piece with only one rehearsal with the orchestra. The choir arrived at 5 p.m. on Thursday November 14, and we had only one hour to rehearse with the orchestra on the day of the concert. This was their second performance of the piece, however, (the first being the world premier at First Lutheran church of Boston on October 27) so the choir performed confidently. Bravo everyone and thanks. 

Program November 14, 2013

1. Opening chorus

In the beginning was the Word 
and the Word was with Him and in Him and Him
What story does the sun tell of the Holy
as lumen spilled from pen to page of day
words capturing each crest of wave
each crease of current, each ripple, each fragile break
of water upon water
upon water upon water
as wind formed crescents on the surface 
the day when light was made

What of the stars that day when day was shaped
what of their questions as they were molded like clay
by hands of words and words of light
what did they think as their glow moved away
into darkness that was beginning before it began
what did they see when seeing became sight?

2. Aria (soprano)


Before he followed the star 
the shepherd followed whiteness,
woolen backs entering fields 
of long grass filled with the long sun, 
the moist dew of dawn. 
With wind from the east each blade 
bowed as though giving themselves 
to the unseen. Soon he too will bow 
in the words of light, 
for the sight of wings 
feathers of a whiteness more than white, 
a brightness more than bright. 

3. Aria (baritone) and Chorus

Not knowing what to say he prayed
as the feather lay still on the page
his thoughts a ripple in the candle light
a silent sound like the first day within night
and then the voice took his hand
took the feather, took the thought, took the man
and ink filled the grain
just as glow filled beginning as beginning began
and the words spoke back to him

4. Chorale: Now Thank We All Our God (3 verses)