Instrumentation SATB choir a cappella

Timing ca. 5’40”

Composed 2015

Poem by Norma West Linder

Commissioned by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir

World Premiere February 4, 2016, Koerner Hall, Toronto, Ontario. Tafelmusik Chamber Choir; Ivars Taurins, conductor

Programme Notes

birch-treeAs a composer who loves writing for voices, I am always on the lookout for words that inspire music in my imagination. When I found Norma West Linder’s Valediction many years ago, it immediately spoke music to me.

Linder’s poem opens with its protagonist entering the garden of death, late in life, and uses plant symbolism to tell of past pain and future promise. Tulips, a symbol of courtship in many cultures, are closed; roses, a symbol of romantic love, have vanished. It is the birch tree, the symbol of renewal and rebirth, that reaches out in embrace. Musically, two related gestures—a sad yet comforting rocking, transforming into larger, joyous circular lines—serve as the building blocks of this setting for a cappella choir.

Valediction was commissioned by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir.


The choral surprise of the night, however, came from the world premiere of Valediction by Canadian composer Jeffrey Ryan, with text by poet and Toronto native Norma West Linder.…The piece was a near textbook example of how to set poetry to music. (Michael Vincent/Toronto Star)

Ryan’s work, based on a poem by Norma West Linder, closes with the line “World without, whirled without end”…the voices conjuring up a genuine sense of whirling motion without the aid of any accompaniment. (Leslie Barcza/Barczablog)

PDF perusal score

Valediction perusal


Spiritus Chamber Choir, conducted by Timothy Shantz

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