While It Is Alive (III. Easter Triptych)
Alice Parker

Composer Alice Parker
Text Emily Dickinson
SATB, organ
Topics Easter
1' 45" Price $1.85 (U.S.)
Released 07/07
Catalog no. 405-514 Difficulty Mod. diff.

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"Alice Parker's Easter Triptych is based on poems by Emily Dickinson, not a voice I think of as being typically represented in sacred choral literature. The three pieces were commissioned in 2001 for the AGO Region II Convention, and have finally seen the light of print. All three are within the reach of modest forces, and yet pose sufficient challenges to demand singers' effort. The texts, both vivid and challenging, are reminders that we are in the presence of real poetry. The first is in a cheery 9/8 with nearly continuous melodic eighths in the acommpaniment. The second is more introspective, an encounter between the Risen Christ and the doubtful or worried believer (I hear echoes of Herbert's 'Love Bade Me Welcome,' though this poem is much sparer); in a nice inversion of convention, the would-be-believer's words are sung by the men, those of Jesus by the women. The idiom here is more 'chord-clustery'--it provides a nice dynamic and rhythmic contrast with the preceding and following 'wings' of the triptych. The third piece returns to the motion of the first (here cast as triplets within triple meter), but with less continuous busyness from the accompaniment, and more excited choral declamation. The close pits the women's cries of 'Live!' against the men's 'Love!,' effectively reminding all that these two words, for Christians, have the same meaning." --AAM Journal, December 2007

Alice Parker has created a distinctive and appealing work for Easter with these three brief settings of poems by the great American poet Emily Dickinson. The first, "He Is Alive," celebrates the joy of creation at the Resurrection with flowing lines in triple meter. The second, "Unto Me?," is mystical in tone; a series of conversational duets between the women's and menn's voices unfold over sustained harmonies in the organ. The third, "While It Is Alive," celebrates life and love with an antiphonal texture between choir and organ. They are neither long nor difficult and although conceived as a triptych, they are easily performed separately.

While it is alive
Until Death touches it
While it and I lap one Air
Dwell in one Blood
Under one Sacrament
Show me Division can split or pare --

Love is like Life -- merely longer
Love is like Death, during the Grave
Love is the Fellow of the Resurrection
Scooping up the Dust and chanting "Live!"

--Emily Dickinson
Poem by Emily Dickinson used by arrangement with the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.


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