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."