“An impressively poised, solemn, and moving performance that brought honor to all the ensembles involved”
Jeremy Eichler
Boston Globe
5 March 2012
(Britten War Requiem)



 






Morten Lauridsen
Morten Lauridsen and Alli McMillan
During Chorus America’s 2013 national conference in Seattle, Alli and 500 choral leaders sang Lauridsen’s Sure on This Shining Night — all conducted by the composer himself.
Morten Lauridsen | Nocturnes (2005)
Sa Nuit d’Été
Soneto de la Noche
Sure on This Shining Night
“[His] probing, serene work contains an elusive and indefinable ingredient which leaves the impression that all the questions have been answered ...”
— Nick Strimple        
Conductor, scholar

The Providence Singers has performed a variety of music by Morten Lauridsen – especially his O Magnum Mysterium and his Les Chansons des Roses, settings of French verse by Rainer Maria Rilke, performed as part of a “New Music for a New Age” concert that also included Elena Ruehr’s Cricket, Spider, Bee.

Lauridsen’s music has become the best-known and most-often performed of all American choral composers. (Musicologist Nick Strimple has written that Lauridsen has eclipsed Randall Thompson for that honor.) His music is distinctive, mystical, recognizable. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 “for his composition of radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power, and spiritual depth.”

Lauridsen’s path to a career in music was also distinctive. Born in Colfax, Wash., and raised in Portland, Ore., he was working as a Forest Service lookout in a remote outpost near Mount St. Helens when he decided to follow his interest in music. He entered the University of Southern California in 1963, studied composition with Ingolf Dahl, Halsey Stevens and Robert Linn, and began a faculty appointment at USC that has lasted more than three decades. (He divides his time between southern California and the Pacific Northwest, where he maintains a cabin on one of the remote San Juan Islands off the Washington coast.)


Sa Nuit d’Été
Rainer Marie Rilke (1875–1926)

Si je pourrais avec mes mains brûlantes
fondre ton corps autour ton coeur d'amante,
ah que la nuit deviendrait transparente
le prenant pour un astre attardé
qui toujours dès le premier temps des mondes
était perdu et qui commence sa ronde
en tâtonnant de sa lumière blonde
sa première nuit, sa nuit, sa nuit d'été.

If, with my burning hands, I could melt
the body surrounding your lover's heart,
ah! How the night would become translucent,
taking it for a late star,
which, from the first moments of the world,
was forever lost, and which begins its course
with its blonde light, trying to reach out toward
its first night, its night, its summer night.


Soneto de la Noche
Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), translation by Nicholas Lauridsen

Cuando yo muero quiero tus manos en mis ojos:
quiero la luz y el trigo de tus manos amadas
pasar una vez más sobre mí su frescura:
sentir la suavidad que cambió mi destino.
Quiero que vivas mientras yo, dormido, te espero,
quiero que tus oídos sigan oyendo el viento,
que huelas el aroma del mar que amamos juntos
y que sigas pisando la arena que pisamos.
Quiero que lo que amo siga vivo
y a ti te amé y canté sobre todas las cosas,
por eso sigue tú floreciendo, florida,
para que alcances todo lo que mi amor te ordena,
para que se pasee mi sombra por tu pelo,
para que así conozcan la razón de mi canto.

When I die, I want your hands upon my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me one more time
I want to feel the gentleness that changed my destiny.
I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep,
I want your ears to stiil hear the wind,
I want you to smell the scent of the sea we both loved,
and to continue walking on the sand we walked on.
I want all that I love to keep on living,
and you whom I loved and sang above all things
To keep flowering into full bloom.
so that you can touch all that my love provides you,
so that my shadow may pass over your hair,
so that all may know the reason for my song.


Sure on This Shining Night
James Agee (1909–1955)

Sure on this shining night
Of starmade shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
 
The late year lies down the north
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
 
Hearts all whole
Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder wand’ring far alone
Of shadows on the stars.