CoroAllegro Season Notes
As a composer in the 21st century there is much opportunity for us to create, to collaborate, and to express our artistic ideas through many outlets. But with this openness also comes a feeling of great responsibility to prove that we are unique; that our voice should shout out above everyone else’s to create an experience unlike any experienced before.
My experience as a woman composer, conductor, and mezzo-soprano in this era has been a fun, challenging, at times frustrating, and rewarding experience all wrapped up into my 20 plus years career as a musician thus far. I feel like as a creator of art, whether it be as composer, singer, instrumentalist, poet, artist, etc., we all share in these experiences that bring us together in the common collective of making something great. I love that feeling of collaborating with an ensemble to write them a new work – this idea of collaboration with other creators is where I thrive and create my best stuff. Music doesn’t happen alone (although as a composer I do spend time alone as I write the notes on paper and shape the piece into something that will take on a life of its own) and it is this collaborative process that excites me the most as a composer/collaborator in the 21st century. I’ve been fortunate to have many wonderful collaborations over the years, creating works from solo instrumental pieces to choral/orchestral works. The Peace of Wild Things was written for the Brandywine Singers, and their director Jonathan Kreamer was a classmate at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, so this collaboration came from our shared time together as undergrads. I find that many of my projects come from personal relationships cultivated over many years of music-making.
The Peace of Wild Things speaks to taking solace in the natural world when our surrounding life becomes worrisome and troubling. That we can both thrive in collaborative settings (for example - coming together as a choir to create music) and nourish our souls through nature, solace, and reflection is a powerful symbiotic and necessary relationship. I think Berry’s poem speaks to this idea so eloquently, and in troubled times we can turn to the natural world or our internal quiet to help us find our way.
I wanted the line “I come into the peace of wild things” to feel like a mantra within this work. When the choir sings this line, I want this to be an arrival moment; an “aha!” of understanding and clarity. There’s a hopefulness in these lines, and a quiet joy, too. And combined with the line “For a time I rest in the grace of the world”, it feels like a moment when we get to take a breath and open our hearts and minds to possibility.
It is such an honor to have CoroAllegro perform this work during their 2018 season, and especially on a concert that features the music of women composers. I hope that as you listen to this work you’ll close your eyes and let their sound wash over you. And whether in your lives you pray or meditate or turn to nature for comfort, I hope this work will speak to your soul and offer a quiet place to reflect and restore.
Jenni Brandon (b. 1977) is an award-winning composer, conductor, and mezzo-soprano who enjoys engaging with performers and audiences, travelling around the country giving talks about the business of music and the art of collaboration. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Sorel Medallion, the American Prize for Choral Composition, the Women Composers Festival of Hartford International Composition Competition, and the Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition.