I'm Going to Sing

Hale Smith

Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Walter Turnbull had spoken to me several times of his desire that I should write a piece for the Boys Choir of Harlem. When he did call, I was surprised at his request for a setting of hymns and/or spirituals for solo tenor voice and a small chamber ensemble. Until his 1990 recital with Warren George Wilson, I was entirely unaware of his wonderful vocal abilities.

I asked him for a list of hymns which included a particular favorite of his mother: ?It Is Well With My Soul.? I didn?t know the song ? in fact, I didn?t know ?I?m Gonna Sing,? either, but together, they suggested a progression of textual and musical logic to four songs connected by a motive that is suggested in the first entry of the cello. The motive reaches its full expression in the ?Blues Threnody,? the expressive center of the piece. After a brief pause, ?It Is Well? serves as an optimistic commentary: an optimism that is born of the experience of living.

Postscript: I have deliberately avoided the traditional harmonies and rhythms connected with hymns. In my opinion, most of such settings are dull, unimaginative, and inept. Mine may be no better, but, at least the rhythms are closer to those of the English language, and as for the harmony: what I hear is what I write.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Composition Date 1991
Duration 00:18:30
Orchestration Tenor Solo; Cl. Vln. Vcl. Pno.
Premiere 1991