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Choral Fantasy For Choir And String Orchestra - A Meditation On Psalm 139


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Re-uploading this from the archives if it's alright.

I have a real recording, and a Sibelius Essentials recording of the piece. The real recording was recorded at my senior recital and there are some technical flaws, but it is still a performance I will never forget.

This piece is for Choir and String Orchestra... I put that in the title because, it is more than simply a choir piece with string accompaniment, the choir and the strings are equally important and complement each other. The piece is a religious work, but stylistically it takes a lot of film music influences.

The piece is set to text from Psalm 139, my favorite chapter of Scripture, and this is probably the most personal piece I've written so far.

Here's a little bit more about the background of this piece (copy/pasted from the comment archives):

I wrote the essentials of this piece during the summer of 2011. I'd been tweaking it since then up until April 2013 when I had my senior recital. During the summer of 2011 I was going through a lot of anxiety, and one of the reasons was, I had finished my third year of college as a composition major, and I had basically completed nothing as far as compositions. I was almost booted out of the composition department at the end of the school year because of it, but, after a day my composition professor changed his mind and decided we would give it another try. He had me going back to the basics and was sending me some exercises over the summer, cause I didn't really feel like I knew what I was doing...

While all this was going on... I thought to myself that I had always wanted to try to write something set to the text of Psalm 139, my favorite chapter in all of the Bible. So I sat down, and, I thought... I wanted it to start off sounding a bit uncertain... but then when the words come in I want it to sound like coming to peace. And, well I just can't explain it, I started writing the intro and I shocked myself. It was better than anything I had attempted for string ensemble in the past by a lot... and then the "O Lord' ostinato just came to me after the intro closed, and I wrote the music up to "You perceive my thoughts from afar".

So I had that much of it done, and I sent it to my composition professor along with the first exercise. He said "forget about the exercises, keep working on this."

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think!

Choral Fantasy For Choir And String Orchestra - A Meditation On Psalm 139

(c) 2013 Jair W. Crawford

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This composition has two stylistic faces: the opening reminds of Wagner or Mahler with frequent chromatic motion and then firmly establishes free diationic C major for most of the time ever since the choir entered. Throughout the music I began to miss more chromaticism. Since most of the piece is in relatively slow tempo, it is a bit too long for what it offers. It is nice music though. You must have something against tenors though, you really use very high register most of the time.

BTW, glad to hear live performance. Congratulations!

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1 hour ago, Sojar Voglar said:

This composition has two stylistic faces: the opening reminds of Wagner or Mahler with frequent chromatic motion and then firmly establishes free diationic C major for most of the time ever since the choir entered. Throughout the music I began to miss more chromaticism. Since most of the piece is in relatively slow tempo, it is a bit too long for what it offers. It is nice music though. You must have something against tenors though, you really use very high register most of the time.

BTW, glad to hear live performance. Congratulations!

Thanks for the feedback! The idea was to start off with a bit of dissonance, but as the text begins to be sung, a sense of calming pervades, hence the more diatonic sound. It just naturally felt right as I was writing it. Kind of an ebb and flow of internal conflict being soothed by peace. As for the tempo, they did take it a little slow. Ideally it would have been performed a bit faster in parts but, I'm grateful to even have a live recording at all. For the live performance it did indeed all come together at pretty much the last minute so as far as I'm concerned, they were amazing!

Thanks again for the feedback!

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