Good News Falls Gently (1995)

Good News Falls Gently (1995) [pdf]
voice, fl (alto fl), 2 ob (EH), 2 cl,2 bsn,
1 hrn, 1tr, 2 perc., strings (10”)
Poetry by Regina Harris Baiocchi
Commissioned by Incontri di Musica Sacra, premiered in Trani, Bari and Rome, Italy

The music is a setting of the poetry of Chicago African-America poet/composer Regina Harris Baiocchi. She wrote this sacred poetic text at my request especially for the 7th International Festival, “Incontri di Musica Sacra Contemporanea” held in Italy in the cities of Trani, Bari and Roma in October 1995. Her text portrays an intense spiritual faith from a feminist perspective. It was premiered and recorded in Chicago with CUBE and soprano Jonita Latimore.

The first poem, Trinity, begins the composition and the three verses are interspersed between the second and third poems in the manner of a refrain. Thus the first poem which surrounds the second and third poems helps to organize the large scale musical structure of the work. This refrain uses cluster chord sounds or vertical chords which begin the piece to create a sense of expectancy and longing. Each time it returns it is transformed with the last version ending on a tonal resolution coming from the initial sets of chords.

The second poem, Good News Falls Gently, uses dance-like rhythms and the melodic qualities of a spiritual to capture the ritualistic yearnings of womankind. I tried to create the feel and tone of a spiritual without using one that we all know.

The third poem, Intercessions, speaks with the ecstatic vision of one person, speaking for all of us, both male and female. Its musical materials are derived from the original cluster chords which were presented vertically at the beginning of the work and are now presented in a horizontal or melodic realization and layered canonically over each other creating an exciting orchestral texture to support the text.