Instrumentation SSAA choir and 11 strings (33221)

Timing 5’30”

Composed 2004

Poem by Lady Catherine Dyer

Commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir with assistance from the British Columbia Arts Council

World Premiere April 25, 2004, Ryerson United Church, Vancouver, BC. Elektra Women’s Choir; Andrew Dawes Chamber Ensemble; Morna Edmundson, conductor

Programme Notes

I have long imagined the Epitaph by Lady Catherine Dyer sung by a women’s choir. The poem speaks simply and eloquently of someone whose life has been shattered by the loss of a partner, now day by day going through the motions, physically alive but emotionally suspended, until death rejoins them.

This setting for women’s choir and small string orchestra opens with an instrumental introduction that acts as a memory of their life together, until the solo violin is left alone. When the choir enters, we hear that the melody, and even the text itself, are “shattered”, where the notes overlap into small clusters and a word may be sung by one part but finished by another. At other times, the reverberation of complete lines suggests the blurring of one day into the next, with the cumulative effect expressing this experience of loss as both uniquely personal and universally shared.

Epitaph was commissioned by, and is dedicated to, the Elektra Women’s Choir (Morna Edmundson and Diane Loomer, co-directors), with thanks to the British Columbia Arts Council.

PDF perusal score

Epitaph perusal

Audio excerpt

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