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EMH-015 At-the-cry-of-the-first-bird

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Catalogue #:EMH-015
Duration:Approx. 2'50"
Composer At the cry of the first bird
Ethan McGrath

At the cry of the first bird

for SATB voices unaccompanied

As is often the case with my work, this music seemed to naturally grow out of the text—a haunting medieval poem about the death of Jesus Christ. The poem’s enigmatic symbolism and otherworldly affect resulted in what was for me an unusually mysterious and ethereal composition. Some of the inspiration for the work came from Renaissance sources, such as Tudor composers William Byrd and Thomas Tallis. Some of their work, though certainly “ethereal,” contains dissonances that are almost as brash as some of those that I have used here. Another source of inspiration was the prospect of a performance by The Kinge’s Quire, a small ensemble that focuses on Renaissance music and therefore sings with great clarity and minimal vibrato. With that type of choral sound in mind as I composed, I felt unusually free to concoct unusual sonorities and dissonant combinations of notes that I knew such an ensemble could bring to life in a special way.

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