TWO SHORT CANONIC CHORUSES
The White Stag
|by Christopher Fulkerson||
Ariel, a Contemporary Vocal Ensemble
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These two short pieces employ different types of strict canonic writing, which came about in different ways as reactions to my study of the music of Webern. However neither of them employs a serial method.
The first chorus, EIN BLUEMLEIN ("A Little Flower"), to a text by an eighteenth-century writer, consists of what may be called a simultaneous or overlapping palindrome, in which the pitches and rhythms of a two-voiced idea proceed forward to the point from which two other voices began their parts. Though the pitches are treated strictly, they are not systematic, and inversions are freely chosen. There are a few extra notes here and there to enrich the harmony. It was written in 1998 and is one minute long.
The second piece, THE WHITE STAG, was written earlier and is a setting of a text by Ezra Pound. This is a more conventionally canonic study in two sections. It was given its world premiere performance under the composer's direction by the Marin Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, the group later known as Ariel, at that group's very first concert, on June 25, 1982, at the Community Congregation Church of Tiburon, California. It was completed in 1982 and is two minutes long.
Thinking about THE WHITE STAG always puts me in mind of one of the most magical events in my life. One day around 1985 I was visiting Elliott and Helen Carter at their house in Ithaca, New York. I had brought my composition THE CHILDERMASS to get Elliott's advice about it. So as not to be empty handed, I brought a bottle of Chardonnay by my favorite winemaker, Grgich Hills. We were outside on the enclosed veranda drinking this with quiche for lunch when I looked across the large recently mown field on their property and saw an astonishing thing: an albino deer. When I remarked on this the Carters assured me it had been seen many times in the area. It was perhaps 200 feet away so I could see it quite clearly. It stood completely motionless for many minutes, and was visible for perhaps as long as half an hour.
Computer realizations of both pieces are available.