LYRIC: Waves


Photo by Diego Mora Barrantes

Another of Todd's commissioned texts for composer Jake Runestad, "Waves" is a soul-searching choral exploration of grief, longing, and hope.


"Waves" was commissioned and premiered in 2016 by the University of California at Fullerton, Robert Istad conducting.


It opens the Grammy-nominated 2019 Conspirare choral album, The Hope of Loving (Delos).



[Excerpt]

O, my soul,

where do you go sometimes?

Why have I come brooding for you here where the ocean writes its tidelines on the endless sand? ...



Todd wrote the text during a dark time for him and his family. He was inspired by the crashing waves on the shores of Lake Superior. "Waves" is the second in a long series of creative collaborations with composer Jake Runestad.



The work is for double choir, and is built on washes of sound. As a repeating motive in the piano establishes a stable foundation (perhaps the ocean itself), one choir enters, grows in volume, and then fades, the second choir entering at the first choir’s highest point so that they overlap like waves. The music, like Boss’s reflective, mercurial text, maintains a dark undercurrent throughout, but is infused with moments of lightness that come to the fore in the final ecstatic stanza. — Leah G. Weinberg, PhD.


The 8:30 music is available for SSAATTBB, tenor solo, and piano from JR Music. Read the full text, listen, and order here.



"I am not a believer, nor do I believe in disbelief," opens my poem "Nine Voices at Saint Martin's" in my fourth collection Someday the Plan of a Town. When I write texts for choral performance, I like to straddle the line between the religious and the secular, by focusing the text's narrative on personal transformation. "Waves" is an example of this. It's a song that can mean many things to many people, regardless of their individual beliefs.


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