Earth’s Winter Song

Double chorus SAT/SAB

Duration circa 8:30

“Earth’s Winter Song” is a setting of a poem by Robert Duncan, a poet born in Oakland who worked and taught in San Francisco for most of his career. Duncan wrote the poem in 1966 as the Vietnam War was escalating. The poem is a long Christmas metaphor in which the poet sees hope of a new spring in the midst of darkness. The poem is filled with traditional Christmas imagery; Duncan sees the Virgin in the face of a young demonstrator, Herod in the duplicitous American politicians and Christ in a living seed, underground, ready to break forth in the new spring.

I followed the lead of Duncan’s metaphors and Christian allusions and set the text with a mosaic of five centuries of Christmas music. In my setting for double chorus (SAT/SAB) I have layered and juxtaposed 13th century tropes, 14th century motets, 15th century carols Bach, Berlioz and Monteverdi.

Performed by San Francisco Choral Artists, Magen Solomon, conductor, December 21, 2008, St. Paul’s Church, Oakland, California

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"Earth's Winter Song" by Robert Duncan, from BENDING THE BOW, copyright © 1968 by Robert Duncan.
Used with permission of New Directions Publishing.