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Choral Music

 

Armenian Requiem (2015)

 

Fire of Sacrifice (2011)

 

Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking (2009)

 

it is at moments after i have dreamed (2007)

River of Stars (Amanogawa) (1999)

 

 

Armenian Requiem (2015)

 

SSAATTBB Mixed Chorus, Children's Chorus, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor and Baritone soloists, organ, and orchestra.

Commissioned by the Lark Musical Society in honor of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

Duration ca. 90'

Published by Drazark Music.

Program notes and performance history:

The Armenian Requiem, Op. 66 was given its first performance at 8:00 P.M. on April 22, 2015 to a full-house at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.  In the audience were HE Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, HE Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, and HE Bishop Michael Mouradian. The Lark Mastersingers and “Tziatzan” Children’s Choir were joined by soprano, Shoushik Barsoumian, mezzo-soprano, Garineh Avakian, tenor, Yeghishe Manucharian, baritone, Vladimir Chernov, organist, Christoph Bull, the VEM String Quartet, with the UCLA Philharmonia Orchestra directed by Neal Stulberg. The ensemble was joined by guest trumpeters Jens Lindeman, and Bobby Rodriguez, and members of the National Children’s Chorus. A pre-concert lecture was presented by Dr. Karenn Chutjian Presti.

The work is in fifteen sections, with texts compiled by Vatsche Barsoumian, as follows:

PRELUDE
I Want to Die Singing (final stanza), Siamanto
Baritone

KHORHURD KHORIN (“The Creation”)
“Mystery Profound” (Hymn of Vesting)
Chorus, Trebles, and Soloists

INTERLUDE I
Naze’s Lullaby, Avetis Aharonian
Mezzo-soprano

VOR HANEYITS (Creator of Beings out of Nothing)
Hymn of the Synaxis for the Repose of Souls
Chorus

INTERLUDE 2         
“Moon of the Armenian Tombs”, F. Ghevond Alishan
Chorus and Soloists

QAHANAYQ (We, priests and people)
Last verse of “Astvatz Anegh” by St. Nerces Shnorhali
Baritone and Chorus

Interval

INTERLUDE 3 – Book of Lamentations
“Words unto God from the depths of the heart”
St. Gregory of Narek (excerpts from Elegy II: 3,4,5)
Chorus and soloists

I VERIN YERUSAGHEM (In Supernal Jerusalem)
Song for Resurrection
Trebles

INTERLUDE 4
“Requiem”, Sylva Kaputikian
Soprano, Chorus and Trebles

TER VOGHORMEA (Lord, Have Mercy)
Litany for the Repose of Souls – “Misere”
Tenor, Trebles and Chorus

INTERLUDE 5
“Three-Voice Mass” (excerpt), Paruyr Sevak
Baritone and Chorus

GOVEA YERUSAGHEM (Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem)
Hymn of the Synaxis
Tenor, Trebles and Chorus

INERLUDE 6
“Brothers We Are”, Mrktich Peshiktashian (1828-1868)
Chorus

YEGHITSI ANUN TEARN (Blessed Be the Lord’s Name)
Blessing and Dismissal, from the Prayer of St. John Chrysostom
Baritone and Chorus

POSTLUDE
“Blessing for the Land”, (1914), Daniel Varoujan
Soloists, Trebles and Chorus

Texts and translations to be added

 

Fire of Sacrifice (2011)

SSAATTBB Mixed Chorus and piano.

 

Commissioned by the Lark Musical Society.

 

Duration: 30'

Published by: Drazark Music

Program Notes and performance history:

Fire of Sacrifice was commissioned by the Lark Musical Society, and first performed in a cycle of three concerts in Los Angeles on the evenings of April 19, 21 and 22, these following the successful premiere of Krouse’s first work on Armenian poetry, Nocturnes, which was premiered during the 2010-11 season by the Dilijan Chamber Ensemble with baritone Vladimir Chernov.  It shares with the earlier work a focus on poetry written by well-known Armenian poets who flourished in the early 20th century, but this time on the works of a single author, Egishé Charents.
The cantata like work is in five movements, for mixed chorus, solo soprano and piano.  It is sung in the original Armenian.  Though the poems are often interpreted as love songs, a closer reading reveals a deeper meaning.  Vatsche Barsoumian, who provided the Romanized transliterations, as well as the English translations, without whose insights into the subtleties of the Armenian language the composer could not have progressed, writes:
“The poems thrive with a vibrant, fiery and thrilling sentiment, anticipating the coming of something new; the poet is eager to embrace a new and blazing life, and for that reason he is not concerned with the losses he may suffer in the process.  He is ready to sacrifice all he has to the fiery world shaping up in front of his eyes; he willingly delivers everything old to the cleansing fire of the coming fiery dawn!”

  1. A distant love is ablaze (chorus)
  2. …And when your sobbing ceased (soprano with chorus)
  3. Drink only the pure fragrance of the sun (chorus)
  4. In this nocturnal world where you lived but an hour (soprano with chorus)\
  5. …In this sacred, fire-red fog of sunset (chorus with soprano)

Texts and translations to be added

  

Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking (2009)

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SSAATTBB Mixed Chorus A Cappella on a text by Walt Whitman adapted by the composer from a poem of the same name from 'Sea Drift.' 10'

Commissioned by the May Festival Chorus of Cincinnati
and dedicated to its director, Robert Porco.

Published by Peer Music Classical .

Program notes and performance history:

My a cappella setting of portions of Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” marks the second time in recent years that I have ventured for inspiration into the poet’s cycle “Sea Drift”.  Two years ago I set his “On the Beach at Night” for baritone, violin, and winds.  In both cases, my aim was to filter these passionate and timeless texts through my own unique, contemporary American sensibility.  After all, these and other texts from “Sea Drift” have been famously set by Delius and Vaughan Williams as well.  Though I did not take this lightly, I remained undaunted.  After all, my British predecessors did the very same thing that I do when I set a text – they used the poet’s lines as a vehicle to express something deeply personal and completely their own.  After all, great literature such as this hardly needs a musical helping hand!  It is we composers who need such texts in order to give voice to emotions and sentiments that would otherwise remain in the abstract realm of purely instrumental music.  After all, we are not poets – our poetry is music. 

Whitman’s ambitious, nearly 200 line original is operatic, even melodramatic.  Nested within is an aria- like collection of italicized verses – the voice of a mocking-bird who, having inexplicably lost its mate, cries out to the sea for understanding and solace.  Even this ‘aria’, at a comparatively modest 73 lines,  needed some whittling down to make it manageable for my purposes.  (Given what I have already observed, it is hardly surprising that I ended up with a remarkably different solution than Delius, who created the text for his choral cantata “Sea Drift” in much the same way.)  Though the trimming down of Whitman’s unrelentingly powerful lines was not at all easy to do, it was accomplished with a clear sense for the text density that I wanted, as well as the word-colors that would best come alive in a choral setting; in short, it was consciously designed to play to my strengths as a composer.  Though these are not the very first lines of the bird’s song, who could resist beginning with the lines “Loud! Loud! Loud!”?  Later this becomes “Land!  Land! O land!” with variants “O rising stars!”, and “O throat!  O trembling throat!”.  These dramatic outbursts alternate with softer, more pensive colors such as “But soft! sink low!”, “Low-hanging moon!”, and “Soft! let me just murmur,”.  Each of these phrases spawn lines of text like so many eddies and rivulets of related word colors, punctuated from time to time by two refrains: “Out of the cradle endlessly rocking”, and “The sea whisper’d me”; the first warm and hopeful, the second austere and timeless.  These are, not incidentally, the very first and last lines of Whitman’s original poem.  Think of them, as I did, as words coming straight from the poet’s heart to ours.  In these lines are embodied undeniable passion and some hope, but there is also awe and considerable fear: fear of loneliness, fear of despair, fear of futility, and underneath it all, fear of the sea, whose rocking undercurrents and deep mysteries are there at all times.  In the end, though one may read this text as a simple poem of despair in love lost, it is ultimately a primordial outpouring of deep longings.  Who among us does not yearn to be heard, to be noticed, to be loved, to matter?  Having served as my motivation and source, this sentiment takes us right to the very heart of things.

The text:

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking

Walt Whitman (from ‘Sea Drift’) adapted by Ian Krouse

Loud! loud! loud!
Loud I call to you, my love!
High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves,
Surely you must know who is here, is here,
You must know who I am, my love.

            Out of the cradle endlessly rocking –

Low-hanging moon!
What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow?
O it is the shape, the shape of my mate!
O moon do not keep her from me any longer.

            Out of the cradle endlessly rocking –

Land!  land!  O land!
Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me my mate back again
if you only would,
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way I look.

O rising stars!
Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise with you.

O throat! O trembling throat!
Sound clearer through the atmosphere!
Pierce the woods, the earth,
Somewhere listening to catch you must be the one I want.

But soft! sink low!
Soft! let me just murmur,
And do you wait a moment you husky-nois'd sea,
For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding to me,
So faint, I must be still, be still to listen.

            Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
The sea whisper’d me.

Hither my love!
Here I am! here!
With this just-sustain’d note I announce myself to you,
This gentle call is for you my love, for you.

The sea whisper’d me.

Walt Whitman adapted by Ian Krouse

Review:

”a cry in close harmonies…interesting counterpoint…deep, rocking undercurrent…evocative tone painting…[a] somber, lullaby-like piece…”

Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer, May 22, 2010


 

it is at moments after i have dreamed (2007)

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[SSAATTBB Choir on a text by e.e. cummings]  6’

Requested and premiered by the Los Angeles Chamber Singers, Peter Rutenberg, Director, Mount St. Mary’s College, Bel Air, California, June 1, 2007.

Published by Ian Krouse Music       

Score       $3.00

Program notes and performance history:

it is at moments after i have dreamed was written for Peter Rutenberg’s superb Los Angeles Chamber Singers.  The text is the tenth of a collection of poems by e.e. cummings called “Sonnets–Unrealities.”  The text was brought to my attention by a graduate student at UCLA who thought it might inspire me.  Just about that time I was hunting for a suitable text for Peter Rutenberg, who had asked me to compose a new piece for the Los Angeles Chamber Singers.  I was drawn instantly to this hauntingly beautiful poem and, once having started, finished the piece within a matter of days.  I was struck by the stark reality that great poems such as this never need music; rather, it is we, the composers, who need the poem to give voice to musical sounds and expressions that would not otherwise see the light of day.  That said the composer may (and I did!) indulge the text in ways that cannot otherwise be accomplished.  The sopranos begin by singing, literally, “it is at moments after i have dreamed – it is at moments, moments, moments, of the rare entertainment of your eyes.”  The structural ‘bubble’ created by fragmenting and repeating individual words – or not – enables the composer to control the metabolism of the text; at times lingering at times racing.  I particularly enjoy this aspect of text setting, and hope that it creates a somewhat spontaneous, improvisatory impression.

it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when(being fool to fancy)i have deemed
with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;

at moments when the glassy darkness holds
the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always)and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;

moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:
one pierced moment whiter than the rest

-turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.

by e.e.cummings

 

"The most memorable performances were of Ian Krouse's “ it is as moments I have dreamed,” on text by e. e. cummings… Krouse's work, only his second for chorus, is varied, surprising, engaging, and gorgeous, and it here received the kind of premiere that most composers only dream about.”

Nick Strimple, AMERICAN CHORAL REVIEW, Fall 2007 of the LA Chamber Singers conducted by Peter Rutenberg at the annual Chorus American concert in LA



River of Stars (Amanogawa) (1999)
  [Motet for SATB Chamber Choir on texts by Akiko Yosano, Hayashi Amari, Meiko Matsudaira, Marichiko, and others] *Permission has been sought. [ 15’]

Requested and premiered by the Los Angeles Chamber Singers, Peter Rutenberg, Director, Zipper Auditorium, Colburn School, Los Angeles, California, April 1, 2000.

Published by:
Ian Krouse Music

Score       $8.00

Program notes and performance history: River of Stars is a literal translation of the Japanese word amanogawa, commonly known in the English-speaking world as the Milky Way.  It was written at the request of Peter Rutenberg for the Los Angeles Chamber Singers, and subsequently premiered by them at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, April 1, 2000.  I have always wished to write a poly-textual motet in the manner of the 13th century French composers, and the juxtaposition of this archaic European style with contemporary texts by Japanese women proved too delicious for me to pass up. Though I knew going in that it might be hard to pull off, I decided I had to try, and the opportunity to write for Peter’s crack chamber choir seemed to provide the perfect opportunity.

Most of the texts were written by the celebrated 19th century Japanese poet Akiko Yosano, one of the first women in Japan to write in an explicitly erotic manner.  Most of the rest of the texts were written by women of our time, all highly influenced by Akiko’s pioneering example.  Most of the poems take the form of the tanka, short poems akin to haiku, which are arranged in lines with the syllable pattern: 5 – 7 – 5 – 7 –7.  Normally the poems subdivide into two parts, the first three lines forming the first, the last two, the second.   I arranged the poems into two groups, the "tenor "group, and the motetus group.  The poems of the tenor group are simple in style and ethereal  in tone, centering on images of the moon, temple bells, heartbeats, and koto-strikes.  The motetus texts are arranged in three parts in a semi-narrative fashion, and are intended to depict the symbolic passing of time.  The texts of Part One are full of Narcissistic adoration and anticipation for a night of love.  Those of Part Two express passion and ecstasy, while the texts of Part Three are given to reflection and melancholy.  The work ends with a reprise of music heard at the end of Part One.  Though the actual score is structurally more intricate than this brief explanation reveals, I leave that to the listener to discover.  The work is dedicated to "my beloved wife Chika."

Text and translation



Motet (On A Theme of Henry Purcell) (1997)
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