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...or a musician

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A mercurial musing on music’s mysterious source
Commissioned by Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra / David Lewis Crosby
Poet/Lyricist: 
Philip Dacey

This mercurial musing on music’s mysterious source draws its literary inspiration from a spirited poem by Philip Dacey, in which the sacred and secular merge into one powerful creative force. A rollicking 10-minute montage of musical styles ranging from Bach to barbershop, both lighthearted and ultimately transcendent.

Voice parts are in a comfortable range, and orchestra parts are playable by a good community orchestra. The biggest challenge of this piece is frequent tempo changes, so everyone has to watch the conductor, but you want them to do that anyway, don't you?

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The Musician

Poem by Philip Dacey

"Bach is always making the sacred secular and the secular sacred."
  - Bill McGlaughlin, Minnesota Public Radio

In the great nave of the church,
we eat noodles and throw dice,
while at lunch in the café
a man sinks to his knees,
muttering prayers
and touching the floor with his head.

A minister delivers a sermon
that sounds suspiciously like a recipe
for coq au vin,
while someone else has hung
beautiful laundry out to dry
on the wide-open arms of a cross.

We're confused
but happy to be so,
unclear as to whether
that was God who just walked by
or a musician
on her way to a concert,
the whole next world
squeezed into her black case.

Reviews and Responses: 

"The music illustrated both music's wonderful variety and expressiveness and the interrelation of sacred and secular.  Old favorites in a new setting prompted joyful laughs from the audience."  - Wisconsin State Journal

"[This] collage...offers opportunities to smile, especially in its treatment of Philip Dacey's poem "The Musician," which combines sacred and secular elements in a lighthearted but serious way.   The audience...gave the composer sustained applause at the conclusion of this eight-minute work."  - Jess Anderson, The Isthmus

Performers: 

American Master Chorale and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra - David Lewis Crosby, conductor.  (Madison, WI)  * Premiere

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