October Dawn - Choral Song (SSAATB)
SSAATB - Digital Sheet Music

Item Number: 20421303
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Choral Choir (SATB divisi) - Level 3 - Digital Download

SKU: A0.841250

Composed by Chris Gordon. Contemporary. Octavo. 18 pages. Cool Wind Music Digital #3029087. Published by Cool Wind Music Digital (A0.841250).

A setting of a very powerful poem by English poet, Ted Hughes, about the onset of autumn in an English (Yorkshire) garden and the surrounding countryside.  It is full of pathos and passion, harmony and dissonance, chaos and peace - just like English weather!

This is a very individual and innovative choral setting of Hughes' poem which is, itself, rich in 'meaty' metaphor and colour - and the composer is a vegetarian! It evokes a savage Nature within a savage landscape where humans and animals compete for space and for food. It is October, the fields and woods and gardens of rural Yorkshire are readying themselves for the cold and desolation (and despair) of winter which isn't far away in time. 'A glass, half-filled with wine, left out(side) To the dark heaven all night, by dawn Has dreamed a premonition of ice across its eye as if the ice-age had begun its heave.'   That is only two and a half stanzas but you see from these lines that there are veiled threats of (Nature's) violence in the heavy tread of the poet's slowly-building angst over what is happening in the surrounding countryside - and his fear grows, and his awe grows, with every line. There is even fear underlining the very last line: 'And now it is about to start.' Winter is creeping closer and closer towards the house and it will not be pleasant to experience!

I have tried to instil a little of this in the music which keeps skidding from consonance to dissonance and back to consonance. Sometimes the dissonance piles up, like snow driven by the wind piles up into deep banks; sometimes the music relaxes into stillness and calm (painted in tonal music) like a crisp, mild late autumn or early winter's day when the sun warms the landscape and life appears bearable, tolerable. I hope this adds to the song's 'charm'. It wasn't easy to write: sometimes the right music was elusive. The music ends with the word 'October' repeated three times, with voices overlapping in a little canon. This conjures up the wistful feelings of the poet as he looks out onto a peaceful scene, soon to be filled with all manner of 'natural violence', while his inner peace will soon be shattered by the mayhem about to be unleashed around him.

Setting Ted Hughes is no easy task. It is for choirs and choirmasters to judge if I have succeeded in conveying the 'sense and sensibility' of a classic 20th century English poem.

The price is for one copy: please purchase a sufficient number of scores if you intend to perform this work. SMP Press offers discounts for multiple-copy purchases.

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