Take Him, Earth

for SATB Chorus and 9 Instruments

Steven Stucky

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Text: Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (A.D. 348-413), Aeschylus (ca. 525 B.C.E.), William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

When Tim Sharp, Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association, very kindly offered me the Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission for 2013, he suggested that because the premiere would take place at the national conference in Dallas in the 50th year since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in that city, the text might refer in some way to that grim anniversary. He suggested, too, that I consider using a chamber ensemble or chamber orchestra to accompany the chorus.

I took these suggestions to heart, but at the same time I wanted to write something universal enough to be appropriate on other occasions, in other settings. Thus the score is dedicated to President Kennedy's memory, but otherwise he is never referred to by name. Instead, I assembled a group of texts that are associated with him in some way, but that also stand alone as a more general eulogy. As a refrain, there are a few lines from the early Christian burial hymn that begins "Take him, Earth, for cherishing" - lines that were earlier set to music by Herbert Howells in his classic motet commissioned for Kennedy's memorial service in 1963. The lines of Aeschylus "Drop, drop - in our sleep, upon the heart sorrow falls" from Agamemnon were quoted by Robert F. Kennedy upon the death of Martin Luther King in April 1968. The celebrated "When he shall die, cut him out in little stars" from Act III of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet were cited by RFK a few months after his brother's murder.

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Additional Information

Commission The 2013 Raymond W. Brock CommissionCommissioned by the American Choral Directors Association
Composition Date 2012
Duration 13:00
Orchestration S.A.T.B. Chorus; Fl. Ob. Cl. Hn. Vln.1 Vln.2 Vla. Vcl. Cb.
Premiere 14th March, 2013 - ACDA National Conference, Dallas, TexasFestival Chorus and OrchestraCraig Jessop, conductor

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