Karl Henning

I Sang to the Sky, and Day Broke

InstrumentationInstrumentation: 2222 4331 T3 (cowbells, bongos, suspended cymbal/bass drum) and harp.
DifficultyNot easy. Parts are willfully independent in many respects, but there are also unison/octave passages which demand precision. Piece cannot be taken too fast, or you send your flautists into double-tonguing shock. Much to keep the percussionists busy, although they are a sotto voce undercurrent, and not the foreground.
CommentsA few people listened to the MIDI and 'accused' me of writing jazz; my Man in Jazz reports that I am in no danger from the copyright police, "although the piece does have something of a groove (how unimaginative of you :-)" Piece bristles with energy; manageable for the upper-range of college/university ensembles. Well suited as a concert opener with traditional/art rep, or to a pops environment.
SourcesLux Nova Press, Atlanta
HistoryWritten at the request of Andrew Levin; premiered at Clemson University 24.iv.01
ContributorThe composer, Karl Henning

O Gracious Light (Phos Hilaron)

Instrumentationchoir SATB, strings and optional harp.
DifficultyModerate. Choral texture is simple (where the tenor and bass are 'in' they always double the soprano/alto at the octave). Technically the string writing is gentle. Most of the challenge, perhaps, is the changing meters; but since the tempo is a "dancing Largo," the metrical twists and turns should be easily manageable. Harp is optional, but a fine coloristic addition.
CommentsTonal; not strict common practice, but not far from the common practice sound-world; lots of fourth-ey, suspension- sounding chords. Broad-breathed, lyrical piece; possesses something of the spirit of plainchant. Piece also exists in a version for choir, piano and optional harp. The text is a traditional English translation of a third-century Greek prayer.
SourcesLux Nova Press, Atlanta
HistoryWritten in memory of Br Anthony Costello, OSB; I will be conducting the piece's premiere (in the piano version) at the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit, MI, 25.xi.01.
ContributorThe composer.

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