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Commissioned by the Phillips Academy Chorus, Christopher Walter, Music Director and premiered on October 31, 2010 - Andover, Massachusetts
This musical setting of the well-known Dylan Thomas poem focuses on the strength and certainty of the message - though death may claim the mortal life, the spirit of humanity endures. Thus, the piano introduction and the first entrance by the chorus are marked "grandly and triumphantly." The musical language is often loud and forceful. Harmonies are bold - either spare (open fourths and fifths) or blunt (added seconds). The softening sonorities of thirds are rarely heard, especially in the opening verse. However, richer and gentler chords are chosen to express the life-affirming sentences:
Though they sink through the sea, they shall rise again...
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down...
The poetic text primarily portrays the darkness and decay of death. And yet, with these few gloriously transcendent lines, the enduring spirit is celebrated. Thus, the final "no dominion" is victorious.
Notes by the composer