Notes: The Association of Canadian Choral Conductors Composition Competition 2002 first-prize winner, this work was composed in 2001 and premiered at Podium 2002 in Toronto by the National Youth Choir, Lydia Adams, conductor. Echo is the final piece in Allan Bevan's trilogy, For a Dream's Sake. Echo can be performed separately, or with its two companion pieces: An End and Mirage. These pieces make a strong statement about the power of love and loss.
Come to me in the silence of the night; Come in the speaking silence of a dream; Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright As sunlight on a stream; Come back in tears, O memory, hope, love of finished years.
Oh dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet, Whose wakening should have been in Paradise, Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet; Where thirsting longing eyes Watch the slow door That opening, letting in, lets out no more.
Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live My very life again though cold in death: Come back to me in dreams, that I may give Pulse for pulse, breath for breath: Speak low, lean low, As long ago, my love, how long ago!
Voicing: SATB a cappella Text: Henry Vaughan (1622 - 95) Unpublished: please contact the composer
Notes: The last number in Three Motets on Texts of Henry Vaughan, Peace was composed in 2001. Peace was premiered by the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff, conductor and recorded on My Soul There Is a Country which was released that same year. Another recording was made by I Coristi, Dr. Debra Cairns, conductor on Songs of the Soul in 2008. Between these two choirs alone, Peace has been sung at an ACDA Convention (Los Angeles, 2005 view, at right) and at Festivals in England and Wales.
My Soul there is a country Far beyond the stars, Where stands a winged sentry All skilfull in the wars, There, above noise and danger, Sweet peace sits crown'd with smiles, And one born in a Manger, Commands the Beauteous files, He is thy gracious friend, And (O! my soul awake!) Did in pure love descend To die here for thy sake, If thou canst get but thither, There grows the flower of peace, The Rose that cannot wither, Thy fortress, and thy ease; Leave then thy foolish ranges; For none can thee secure, But one, who never changes, Thy God, thy life, thy cure.
from Silex Scintillans, 1650
Performed by: I Coristi Chamber Choir, Dr. Debra Cairns, conductor, from Songs of the Soul, 2008
Voicing: SATB unaccompanied Text: Henry Vaughan (1662-1695) Contact composer
Notes: The Three Motets are a cappella settings of three short poems (see below) by Welsh physician, translator, and poet, Henry Vaughan. Vaughan's poetry is sacred in nature and heavily influenced by the Anglican poet, George Herbert. Vaughan was studying law at Oxford when the English Civil War broke out. A royalist, Vaughan returned to the much less tumultuous Welsh countryside where he lived out his quiet and contemplative life. The Motets may be performed separately if desired (see entries on the individual works elsewhere on this site) or together as follows: The Eclipse, The Revival, and Peace. The composer views this poetry as representative of 1) The Passion 2) Easter 3) Heaven. The Motets were composed between 1999 and 2001 and were grouped together by the composer upon completion of Peace in early 2001. All of the performances that follow are from My Soul, There Is a Country, by the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff, conductor. This recording was made shortly after the first performance of the work by this award-winning Canadian university choir. This CD is available thru the CMC. See also the separate entries on each of the three pieces below.
The Eclipse Whither, O whither did’st thou fly When I did grieve thine holy Eye? When thou did’st mourn to see me lost, And all thy Care and Councels crost. O do not grieve where e’er thou art! Thy grief is an undoing smart. Which doth not only pain, but break My heart, and makes me blush to speak. Thy anger I could kiss, and will: But (O!) thy grief, thy grief doth kill.
The Revival Unfold, unfold! take in his light, Who makes thy Cares more short than night. The joys, which with his Day-star rise, He deals to all, but drowsy Eyes: And what the men of this world miss, Some drops and dews of future bliss. Hark! how his winds have chang’d their note, And with warm whispers call thee out. The frosts are past, the storms are gone: And backward life at last comes on. The lofty groves in express Joyes Reply unto the Turtles voice, And here in dust and dirt, O here The Lilies of his love appear!
Peace My Soul, there is a Country Far beyond the stars, Where stands a wingèd sentry All skilfull in the wars, There above noise, and danger Sweet peace sits crown'd with smiles, And one born in a Manger Commands the Beauteous files, He is thy gracious friend, And (O my soul awake!) Did in pure love descend To die here for thy sake, If thou canst get but thither, There grows the flower of peace, The Rose that cannot whither, Thy fortress, and thy ease; Leave then thy foolish ranges; For none can thee secure, But one, who never changes, Thy God, thy life, thy Cure.
Neal W. Woodruff provided this substantial review of the Three Motets in the May, 2007 issue of The Choral Journal: "Award-winning Canadian composer Allan Bevan has set a marvelous triptych of texts by the seventeenth-century metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan. Texts of the first two motets are chosen from Vaughan's late publication, Thalia Redivivam, 1678 (revival of the muse of comic poetry), while the final text is culled from his most well-known collection entitled Silex Scintillans, 1650 (Flashing Flint). Specifically, the title of the 1650 work represents the "stony heart against which Divine flint strikes and produces fire." The fervor reflected in the poetry was stirred into flame during the various outbreaks of religious dissent and war in England."
Voicing: SATB unaccompanied Text: Henry Vaughan (1622-1695) Unpublished: please contact the composer
Notes: Awarded first prize in the 2000 Austin (TX) Pro Chorus Choral Composition Competition. This work was composed in 2000 and is the first of three pieces I composed on the poetry of Welsh metaphysical poet, Henry Vaughan. It was composed in 2000 and revised in 2020. Some choirs that have performed this work include the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Da Capo Chamber Choir, Musikay, I Coristi, and the U. Alberta Madrigal Singers, and, most recently, on Good Friday 2022 by Pro Coro.
Whither, O whither did’st thou fly When I did grieve thine holy Eye? When thou did’st mourn to see me lost, And all thy Care and Councels crost. O do not grieve where e’er thou art! Thy grief is an undoing smart. Which doth not only pain, but break My heart, and makes me blush to speak. Thy anger I could kiss, and will: But (O!) thy grief, thy grief doth kill. Henry Vaughan (1622-1695) From Thalia Rediviva, 1678
Performed by: The University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff, conductor; recorded on, My Soul There is a Country. (2001)
Performed by: I Coristi Chamber Choir, Dr. Debra Cairns, conductor; recorded on, Songs of the Soul, 2008
Notes: Composed in 1996 to an early poem of the great English mystic, William Blake. The text describes the morning sunrise which is reflected throughout the setting. To Morning works well for women's choirs or accomplished treble choirs, but it requires an accomplished pianist as the piano has a large part in the creation of the pre-dawn atmosphere. A variety of audio and video recordings are posted here to provide an idea of the scope of the work. The recordings are just a selection of what is out there as this piece continues to be one of my most often performed works. Performances from Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Russia are featured. To Morning also exists in a transcription for String Orchestra composed in late 2005. This transcription was awarded the Member's Prize in the Mozart 250 Composition Competition sponsored by the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, Moscow in 2006. You may listen to their very atmospheric recording to the right. The choral version is in e flat minor, while the string version is in e minor. See below for the link to Cypress Choral Music where you can see the entire score and listen to another fine recording.
O holy virgin! clad in purest white, Unlock heav'n's golden gates, and issue forth:
Awake the dawn that sleeps in heav'n: let light Rise from the chambers of the east, and bring The honied dew that cometh on waking day.
O radiant morning, salute the sun, Rouz'd like a huntsman to the chase, and with Thy buskin'd feet, appear upon our hills.
William Blake, from Poetical Sketches, 1783
Performed by: The University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff, conductor; Jeremy Spurgeon, piano; live from All Saint's Cathedral, Edmonton, November 28, 1998.
Performed by: The Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, Misha Rachlevsky, conductor.
"...A contrapuntal, picturesque reflection on a poem by William Blake about the beauty of a sunrise (poem included in the score) it oozes its way (half note at 48, then 72) through a whole range of emotions with rallentandos, quasi echoes, quarter note triplets over two beats and finishes with a poco a poco raddolcendo (gradually sweeter and softer). Intensely gorgeous". -Stanton's Music
The following review by Elizabeth Schauer appeared in the April, 1998 issue of TheChoral Journal:
"Blake's poem O Holy Virgin receives a powerful setting by Canadian composer Allan Bevan. In the predominantly secular text, the poet bids the holy virgin to invoke dawn. A rich harmonic palette accompanies potent textual images. A slow, steady pulse and sustained, ascending vocal lines create the character of a solemn procession. Ranges and tessituras are comfortable with the exception of an optional b flat 2. The two primary voices occasionally cross and frequently sing at the interval of a second, requiring independence on the part of the singers. With a key signature of E flat minor, tenths in the right hand, and duple versus triple rhythms, the piano part is out of the reach of most student players. A worthy text and beautiful setting make this piece appropriate for any treble chorus."
Voicing: SSA and piano Text: Emily Bronte (1818-1848) Published by: Cypress Choral Music (CP1862)
Notes: This piece was the first-prize winner in the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors Composition Competition, 2004. First performed by the National Youth Choir, Timothy Shantz, conductor at Podium, Winnipeg, 2004.
Harp of wild and dreamlike strain, When I touch thy strings, Why dost thou repeat again Long-forgotten things?
Harp, in other earlier days, I could sing to thee; And not one of all my lays Vexed my memory.
But now, if I awake a note That gave me joy before, Sounds of sorrow from thee float, Changing evermore.
Yet, still steeped in memory's dyes, They come sailing on, Darkening all my summer skies, Shutting out my sun. -Emily Jane Bronte
Performed by: Concerto Della Donna, Iwan Edwards, conductor. From: Parlez-Moi: The Music of Allan Bevan (2011).
Emily Bronte (1818-1848)
Marie Stultz wrote the following review in Spectrum Music's Spring 2005 Choral Newsletter:
Harp of Wild, by Allan Bevan, English text, Set to a text by Emily Brontë (1818-1848), this composition won the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors Composition Competition in 2004. Crossing voice parts and suspensions add to the atmospheres created in this music. Filled with numerous key changes and challenging rhythms, the piece would be tremendously successful with the accomplished woman's chorus. The lyrical counterpoint, in contrast to full homophonic sections on ever changing dynamics, makes the piece an artistic challenge. After some very complex writing in the middle section of the piece, it concludes simply in two and three parts with the second altos having the capability of singing a low e sharp. Difficulty rating 4-5.
Notes: Winner of the ACCC 1999-2000 Composition Competition and sung for the first time by Canada's National Youth Choir, at the Winspear Centre for Music in Edmonton, conducted by Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death. Amen.
Performed by: Ariose Women's Choir, Dr. Marilyn Kerley, conductor from Joy Shall Be Yours, 2001
Rollin Smith's review of Ave Maria appeared in the January, 2005 issue of The American Organist:
"Allan Bevan is an extremely talented composer of ravishing sacred choral music in a traditional style. This Ave Maria won first prize in the equal voices category of the 1999-2000 Association of Canadian Choral Conductors Associated Publishers Composition Competition, and if your choir can’t sing it you should hire two good sopranos to perform it just so your congregation can hear something as beautiful as this. The two soloists rest after the first eight measures while the two-part trebles continue. Then the soloists sing to the end, and the “choir” only joins with them to provide harmony for the last three measures. The piece could be sung by a two-part choir or just two soloists. This is beyond recommended".