(2015) for SSA chorus with piano. Text by Joel E. Jacobson.
Commissioned by Composers and Schools in Concert for Savannah Arts Academy, Savannah, GA, under the direction of Russell P. Watkins and East High School, Lincoln, NE under the direction of Brett D. Epperson.
Description and Program Note
Sisters is a fast-paced, high-energy composition for high school women’s chorus dealing with themes of sisterly love, beauty, and the power of supporting each other.
“Please no songs about boys, love, or nature!”
The young women of Lincoln’s East High School and Savannah’s Savannah Art Academy were clear on that point. When I spoke with these choirs in the fall of 2015 they told me that what was important to them were issues of equality, inclusion, and sisterly love. Race and gender inequality stories were, and still are, making headlines. These ladies were interested in a piece that was socially and culturally relevant. They definitely did not want to sing of amorous love or to extol the beauties of nature.
The discussion I had with the choirs was important to me because I wanted to write a piece for them. In order to do that I had to speak to what they were interested in and I needed to know what they held to be important. The amazing poet, and my dear friend, Joel E. Jacobson was able to craft an exquisite poem keeping all of this in mind. What he created is a powerful declaration of the importance of sisterly love, standing in unity, and relying on one another’s strengths. As the poem progresses the perspective changes from the singular I to the plural we encapsulating the power of community and transformation. The text ends with these powerful words:
Sisters, we can’t stand on our own, but on the strength each has shown.
Sisters, I will learn to be true, I can be me because of you.
To convey the hopefulness and purpose of the text I wanted the music to be fast-paced and high-energy. I wanted the music to be engaging to the choirs that would sing it, but would also be appropriately challenging. A rolling and constant accompaniment pattern is used in the piano to drive the rhythm and support the long vocal lines. The middle section of the composition concludes with a glorious moment of imitation and counterpoint that opens with a pair of solo voices. When the opening melodic idea returns the text has transformed and the music pulses with life until the very last moment.
In this embedded music player you will find a recording of the premiere performance by the Savannah Arts Academy and variety of demo tracks to aid in the rehearsal and preparation of Sisters for performance. All rehearsal tracks are MIDI realizations.