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War & Peace in the Psalms?. Jeremiah Selvey Music 185 February 28, 2012 University of Washington. FOUR QUESTIONS . What is a choir? Which parts sing in a choir? What is “tonal music”? What is a “premiere” in music?. What is a Choir?.

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war peace in the psalms

War & Peacein the Psalms?

Jeremiah Selvey

Music 185

February 28, 2012

University of Washington

four questions
  • What is a choir?
  • Which parts sing in a choir?
  • What is “tonal music”?
  • What is a “premiere” in music?
what is a choir
What is a Choir?
  • Group of singers who strive to create an “orchestra” of voices
  • Usually led by a conductor
  • Most choristers in the U.S. are amateurs.
chichester psalms background
Chichester psalmsBackground
  • Texts from the Hebrew Psalter
  • For choir, orchestra, boy soprano
  • By Leonard Berstein (Jewish; Broadway composer)
  • Composed in 1965 for Chichester Cathedral
what is tonal music
What is “Tonal Music”?
  • Music that uses the common practice and construct of 18th- and 19th- century melody and harmony.
  • A single tone or pitch is considered to be “home” and serves as the “base” for the scales on which the harmony and melody are based.
  • Generally returns back “home.” (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy)
soundscape of 1960 s
Soundscape of 1960’s
  • Expanding to more colorful explorations of composition
  • Led to three primary schools in the early 20th century.
    • Traditional / Tonal (Stravinsky, Bartòk, Milhaud, Poulenc)
    • Serial – dissolution of tonal construct; mathematical construction of melody and harmony (SchoenbergBoulez, Webern)
    • Avant-Garde – use of experimental techniques; re-creating defintions of music, etc. (Cowell, Varese, Cage)
  • Fresh thinking appreciate, but not a warm audience response.
bernstein s approach
Bernstein’s Approach
  • Conducted many of these contemporary works with the New York Philharmonic
  • Wrote Symphony No. 3 “Kaddish” in the experimental style
  • Rejected the avant-garde techniques for Chichester Psalms
  • Use Broadway material as sources for ChichesterPslams tonal style (a huge contrast to other concert music of the 1960s)
commission world premiere
Commission & World Premiere
  • Commission: contractual agreement between an organization and a composer for a work intended for performance by the organization; implies the rights for that organization to premiere the work.
  • World premiere: the first performance of a composition.
  • Chichester Cathedral did NOT get to premiere the work. 
war peace
  • Movement 1 – celebration & dancing
  • Movement 2 – calmness & then war; calmness during war
  • Movement 3 – struggle to find peace; peace found in the “love duet”; final chorale

“How good and pleasant it is for people

to dwell together in unity.”