Jenni Brandon’s “Giver of Stars” is performed by Cantari, of the Voices Chapel Hill Chorus on June1, 2019 at 7:30 PM, Chapel of the Cross, 304 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC. Voices, is one of the North Carolina Triangle’s oldest and most distinguished choral groups. Cantari, Voices’ select vocal ensemble, made its choral debut in the 2006-07 season. Cantari’s Summer Concert Women of Note showcases exciting music from contemporary women composers. Singing mostly a cappella music, Cantari’s vocal selections are chosen from medieval to modern repertoire, and include sacred and secular, serious and humorous numbers. The Voices Conductor is Stephen A. Futrell, DMA
Givers of Stars tells of joy and pleasure, reveling in beauty and the ecstatic joy of being overwhelmed by something too beautiful. It was Commissioned by the Young New Yorkers Chorus under the direction of Michael Kerchner.
Amy Lowell’s (1874-1928) poem The Giver of Stars speaks of joy and pleasure, and Jenni wanted to express both the quiet reflection and grand excitement of these feelings within the work. At times the work moves forward joyfully, reveling in beauty, such as the section that begins “let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me.” And at other times it builds slowly towards a moment of arrival, such as towards the end of the piece when the voices overlap while singing “the beauty.” This section breaks into a free moment where all of the voices sing overlapping with their own rhythms and individual voices, representing an ecstatic joy and freedom of expression, and the sense of being overwhelmed by something too beautiful. Both the opening and the ending of The Giver of Stars is expansive and floating – I love the line “Hold your soul open” and thought that layering the text “Hold your Soul” would create this other-world feeling of vastness, of possibility, and the pure pleasure of being suspended in a dream-like state, allowing the word “open” to finally move the piece from dreams to earthly delights.
In selecting the text and particularly in setting the spaciousness of the opening of the piece, I kept in mind not only the amazing abilities of the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, but the openness of the performance space for the premiere. Performed by Vox Reflexa.
From Sword Blades and Poppy Seed, 1914