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Faith is the bird that feels the light

A soulfully inflected affirmation, with a dazzling final chord
Rabindranath Tagore

A soulful rendering of Rabindranath Tagore's poetic aphorism on faith, featuring blues-inflected solos, varied choral textures, and a dazzling final chord. A favorite of high school and college choirs, and a popular programming choice for festival and All-State choirs.

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From "Fireflies"

Rabindranath Tagore

Faith is the bird that feels the light
And sings when the dawn is still dark.

Composer's Note: 

When I began composing this song I didn’t know how it would end; in fact, I thought it would be significantly longer than it is. But after composing the first 10 bars of a small recapitulation, I stumbled upon a surprising and glorious six note chord, offering not resolution but possibility. I suddenly thought, “Good heavens, what if I stop right here?!” I was so astonished I had to get up from the piano and take a brisk walk around the block. Returning to the piano, I took a deep breath and drew a double bar line after what is one of my favorite endings of all time.

Performance Note: Why sure, this song may be certainly sung with folk/blues inflections! The solo may be divided between more than one soloist if desired. This song works at a variety of tempos, but it loses some of its nuance when it gets too fast.

Reviews and Responses: 

"Just thought you might like to know how much my kids absolutely LOVE singing Faith Is the Bird.  They are singing it constantly and tell me they sing it all the time at home too.  We have had choir camp all this week, and they are just crazy about it."  - Joy Hirokawa, Bel Canto Children's Chorus (Red Hill, PA)

"Our vocal group sang through Faith is the Bird last night, and enjoyed it so much.  The lyric is so wonderful, the music a real joy to sing and hear." - Molly MacMillan, Scola Singers (Ithaca, NY)

"My chorus women have absolutely LOVED singing Faith Is the Bird.  It is such a well crafted piece. They sound great and they feel good when they sing it.  We talked about the artwork in yesterday's rehearsal.  Thank you for including the background information on it.  It meant so much more to know what was behind it."  Laura Sam, Choral Director, Governor's School (Raleigh, NC)


PREMIERE: Unity Church Choir Women's Ensemble - Elizabeth Alexander, conductor (Saint Paul, MN) 
Amherst Regional H.S. Hurricane Singers / Anita Cooper ~ Gold Medal All Stars, Symphony Hall (Boston, MA)
Amherst College Women's Chorus / Mallorie Cherenin (Amherst, MA)
ANIMA Singers / Emily Ellsworth (Pretoria, George & Capetown, SOUTH AFRICA)
Battle Creek Girls Chorus / Meredith Bowen ~ Choir Tour of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Bel Canto Children's Choir / Joy Hirokawa (Pittsburgh, PA & Leipzig, GERMANY)
Bella Voce and Women's Ensemble of Acalanes High School / Bruce Lengacher (Lafayette, CA)
Bella Voce Singers / Jessica Corbin (Brooklyn, NY)
Carillon Women's Chorale /  Karen S Nevins (Ann Arbor, MI)
Choir of Camrose United Church / Darryl Dewalt (Calgary, Alberta, CANADA)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville / Jason Shelton (Nashville, TN)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville / Ruth Lewis (Gainsville, FL)
Choir of Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington / Diana Munch (Farmington Hills, MI)
Choir of Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church / Beth Nakao Syverson (Costa Mesa, CA)
Choir of Community Church of Chapel Hill / Glenn Mehrbach (Chapel Hill, NC)
Ensemble Laude / Elizabeth MacIsaac (Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA)
Head-Royce High School Choir / Bob Wells (Oakland, CA)
Wisconsin High School Women’s All-State Choir /  Emily Ellsworth ~ Wisconsin ACDA (Eau Claire, WI)
Hope College Women's Chamber Choir / Jennifer Wolfe (Holland, MI)
Jenny Lind Singers / Michael Zemek ~ Augustana College (Rock Island, IL)
"Microscope" Vocal Ensemble of Woodlands Academy / Kaitlin Donnelly (Lake Forest, IL)
Northwestern College Women's Chorale / Judy Lennartson ~ Northwestern College (Saint Paul, MN)
Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir  Nancy Menk (Guelph & Toronto, Ontario, CANADA)
SingersMarin "les étoiles" / Jan Pederson Schiff ~ World Choir Games (Cincinnati, OH & Graz, AUSTRIA)
Sloan Creek Middle School Choir, Fairview, TX/ Christina Chapman ~ ACDA National Conference (Dallas, TX)
Stoney Creek High School / Brandon Ulrich  (Fort Wayne, IN)
The Pickup Sticks of First Unitarian Church of Victoria / Kristina Stevens  (Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA)
University of Virginia Women's Chorus / Kae Renae Mitchell (Charlottesville, VA)
University of Michigan Women's Glee Club / Julie Skadsem ~ University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
University of North Carolina Women's Glee Club / Sue Klausmeyer (Durham, NC)
Visitation High School Choir / Rhonda Grundahl-Rexroth  (Mendota Heights, MN)
West Ottawa Select Women's Ensemble / Pamela Pierson ~ ACDA Central Division Conference (Fort Wayne, IN)
Westminster Women's Chorale / Natasia Cain ~ Westminster College (Fulton, MO)
Wright State University Women's Chorale / Drew Collins (Dayton, OH)
Young Naperville Singers Chamber Choir / Angie Johnson (Naperville, IL)

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