A Clear Midnight
For SATB Choir and Piano, with Handbells, Crotales, Prayer Stones, and the *Kendrick Bell     (5:45)
    *(This bell can be obtained from the "Sounds of Solace" website.  Alternately, a handbell or another bell-like sound will suffice....  sounding at G# above middle-C)

Gladde Music Publcations  (#201501)
$2.15

Evocative images often inspire colors, timbres, and even ethereal sounds in the "inner ear" of the composer's imagination.  The composer gives this background;
"One night, years ago, I was driving with my wife and sons back from our first trip to the Grand Canyon - toward Phoenix.  Out in the middle of nowhere... removed from all city lights... we stopped to gaze upon an unbelievably starry sky!
The spectacular shooting stars were more awe-inspiring than any fireworks we had ever seen!  We gazed upon this celestial show for a long while, my young sons sitting on the warm hood of our car."

"A Clear Midnight" seeks to build a musical soundscape of evocative sonorities, reminiscent of that luminous night near the Grand Canyon.  Those memories are vividly rekindled in this serene poem by Walt Whitman, one of America's most beloved and unique homegrown poets.

Click the image below to enlarge...

Musical description
  ... a very sonorous piece.... not technically difficult.... slow-moving with ethereal harmonies.  It requires soft and sensitive unison singing, good breath support, and careful shaping of the singer's tone.  There's a bit of slow, imitative singing at points.  Then, there's a brief section of aleatoric murmurings.  The music concludes with gentle polychords in the voices, converging into a final unison while the instruments create a shimmering conclusion.  Some choir members will play Handbells while singing.  Two singers will briefly play the Prayer Stones in one spot.  A choir member will strike the Kendrick Bell three times.  A percussionist (or a singer who plays keyboard) will play the Crotales with mallets.  There are two places where the Crotales will be "bowed" with a Contrabass bow.

These words allude to the mood of the music;
ethereal        celestial        gossamer        serene        diaphanous

These musical techniques are utilized to create the musical fabric;
bi-tonality        pointillism        aleatoricism        minimalism        polychordal harmony

Click the image below to enlarge...

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Click the image above to enlarge
Radio broadcast with Interview & Music (at 1'50")

Herriman High School Chamber Singers
Herriman, Utah
Austin Thorpe, Director

 

 

 

 

To see a full-sized photo, click on the image below

The composer  writes;
    "I've always had a strong affinity for Astronomy.  My love for all things stars, planets, and moons became my creative generator for writing "A Clear Midnight".  A world-renowned flautist friend of mine, Brooks de Wetter-Smith, took this photograph on the same evening that I completed this composition.  Unbeknownst to me - he was viewing this moon in North Carolina while I was gazing up at the same moon in California. What a serendipitous "reunion" of our friendship from graduate days together at Eastman!"


The photograph above is the Super Blood Moon, a total eclipse of the moon that appeared on the night of September 27, 2015.  It happens to be at its closest point to the earth in it's elliptical orbit.  In the Northern Hemisphere, it's called the Harvest Moon.  In the Southern Hemisphere, it's the first full moon of spring. It's also called a Blood Moon... the reddish color produced by sunlight bending around the earth during the eclipse which emphasizes the red portion of the color spectrum.  This astronomical phenomenon won't occur again until 2033!


This photograph is used by permission from Brooks de Wetter-Smith Photography at - http://www.dewettersmith.com
Copyright © Brooks de Wetter-Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Herriman High School Choral Department
Herriman, Utah
Austin Thorpe, Director

 

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Herriman High School Chamber Singers
Austin Thorpe, Director
April 8, 2016
The Riverside Church
New York City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on each image below to hear various sounds that are used in A Clear Midnight
(Dated titles are from earlier compositions by the composer)



Recantation (1975) by Brad Nelson
(4-note motif with a "tonal" 12-tone row)

 

Kendrick Bell
("Sounds of Solace" website)

 

Handbells

 

Crotales
In Flanders Fields (2002) by Brad Nelson
(Bowed Crotales - 2 examples)

 

Prayer Stones
What The Thunder Said (1976) by Brad Nelson
(2 examples)