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A rapturous call to freedom and risk
Commissioned by Cedarburg High School Choir / Darciann Ketter (Cedarburg, WI)
Edna St. Vincent Millay

In Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem, “On Thought in Harness,” a falcon’s timidness reflects our own reluctance to embrace freedom and risk.  This rapturous setting of Millay’s words gradually ascends into extravagant flight, with contemplative solos, a lustrous piano part, and soaring vocal lines.

University of Washington Chamber Singers' recording of this song may be purchased at:

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Look Listen Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Item Delivery Method Price Quantity SSATB, piano - Choral Score
5' MA SEA-059-01 Sheet Music
SSATB, piano - Choral Score
5' MA SEA-059-01D Licensed PDF

On Thought In Harness

Poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My falcon to my wrist
From no high air.
I sent her toward the sun that burns
Above the mist;
But she has not been there.

Her talons are not cold; her beak
Is closed upon no wonder;
Her head stinks of its hood, her feathers reek
Of me, that quake at the thunder.

Degraded bird, I give you back your eyes forever, ascend now whither you are tossed;
Forsake this wrist, forsake this rhyme;
Soar, eat ether, see what has never been seen; depart, be lost,
But climb.

Reviews and Responses: 

"Climb represents the struggle to let go of that which we hold most dear, in an effort to encourage further growth and discovery."  Cedarburg News (Cedarburg, WI)

"Climb took me on a musical journey, from the somewhat dissonant beginning...through the ascending lines powerfully urging the falcon to climb into the stratosphere.  The last notes of the piano do not even resolve (which would bring the feeling of the piece back down to earth); rather, the falcon is allowed to continue climbing beyond the bounds of the song."  - Brett Hanisko, singer, Cedarburg High School Choir

"Thank you for giving the altos so many great notes!  I felt (and my fellow altos agreed) that during some measures, our notes really made the chord."  - Katie Hamblin, alto, Cedarburg High School Choir

"I absolutely loved singing my part, the tenor part; it was an awesome part that gave us an excellent chance to showcase our section."  - Mike Dixon, tenor, Cedarburg High School Choir


Cedarburg High School Choirs - Darciann Ketter, conductor ~
          Cedarburg Performing Arts Center (Cedarburg, WI)   * Premiere

Kenyon Community Choir - Benjamin Locke, conductor ~ Kenyon College (Gambier, OH)

New York Virtuoso Singers - Harold Rosenbaum, conductor (New York, NY)

Stoney Creek High School - Brandon Ulrich, conductor (Fort Wayne, IN)

Spring Arbor University Concert Choir - Kyle Rehnlund, conductor (Spring Arbor, MI)

University of Washington University Chorale - Giselle Wyers, conductor (Seattle, WA and Tallinn & Tartu, ESTONIA)




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