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Newsletter May 2015

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DON MACDONALD/Music for Choirs/Spring 2015

This is the first newsletter from my updated website. Twice a year I hope to keep people informed about new works. The site currently has audio and video for many of the new works. Subscribe to the newsletter if you would like to receive these (twice yearly) emails in the future.

I suggest that you – View this email online

Fusion

Written for an intermediate level ensemble, this high energy piece would be a great concert closer. It was written to explore choral writing without the use of poetry. Abandoning poetry opens up many compositional doors for the choral composer since being unrestrained by text yields a greater ability to choose your own rhythm and form among other things. I chose to make up syllables that would fit each of the motifs in the piece. The bass ostinato throughout the piece is based on the rhythm of a taiko drum pattern I heard many years ago while the upper parts explore short motifs and contemporary harmonies. The uniting of these two ideas felt to me like a “fusion” of different musical styles, thus the title.

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Pacem

This piece is written for an advanced ensemble with the ability to do up to 8 parts divisi. In order to bring more emotional weight to this anti war composition I created two sections that rely solely on the idea of descending stepwise motion. Each voice descends at different times and using different note lengths until finally coming to rest. The text takes Latin quotes, phrases and sayings and weaves them into a tapestry that carries a strong and timeless message.

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The Piano

This piece was written for an intermediate level ensemble. The wonderful poetry by D.H. Lawrence is set in such a way that the choir and the piano meet as equal partners in shaping this wonderful imagery; “Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings…”

Purchase from Cypress Publishing

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Winter Sun

“To light, to water, and the flow of birds through ancient stars.” This fantastic poetry written by Malca Litovitz, so rich with imagery of the Canadian Winter, provided the inspiration for a composition that embraces word painting.

Purchase at Cypress Publishing

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The Bridge Builder

Written for an advanced ensemble, this wonderful parable by Will Allen Dromgoole has a dreamy quality and the music reflects that by using subtle syncopation and a scale that produces chords and melodies that straddle the gulf between darkness and light.

Purchase at Sheet Music Plus

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When the Earth Stands Still

I wrote this for my wife Allison Girvan’s small but advanced youth choir, Laline, the smallest of 3 ensembles that she directs. I decided to compose a song much as a contemporary songwriter would, with my own lyrics and a form based around repeating verse and chorus. This is probably one of the easiest pieces of mine to learn yet one of the hardest to perform since the long phrases require a great deal of attention to dynamics, breathing, and consistency of tone.

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Blues for a Green Boy

Written for an intermediate to advanced level ensemble this piece takes the listener into the mind of a young boy as he plays the blues but lives in a world of green. Subtle shades of gospel are woven into contemporary harmonies.

available from Cypress Publishing

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Fishing by the Light of the Ancestors

This is the second album by husband and wife team Allison Girvan and Don Macdonald featuring songs from around the world.
Adrift in an ocean

at the edge of the world,

I wait as those who came before me

cradle the moon in their hands.

They press the moon up above them

until, at last, it is held high in their outstretched arms

and I cast my line into the water

down through their reflections.

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