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(Photograph of Gwyneth Walker with pianist Irene Jacobson following the premiere.)
Commissioned by Singers Marin in celebration of their 25th concert season, Jan Pedersen Schiff, Founder and Artistic Director. Premiered by Wings of Song and Singers Marin, April 23, 2013, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, California.
The Gospel Ship is a new arrangement of a traditional spiritual. The character of this version is shaped by the lyrics, "I'm gonna shout and sing, until the heavens ring..." For this is a song of celebration. The Gospel Ship (i.e., a vessel of music) transports the singers above earthly troubles, on up to heaven.
Music has the power to overcome daily challenges. The burden is lightened, and the weary road is shortened. Thus, the climax of this work comes with the lyrics, "your journey won't be long if you live a life of song." Indeed, with voices joined together, we shall go "sailing through the air!"
Notes by the composer