Choral Symphony No.1 (Midwinter)

Scored for: Large SATB choir, soprano and baritone soli and orchestra
Level: Challenging
Duration: 37 minutes

Other Info:  Will Todd's Choral Symphony No.1 (Midwinter) was Commissioned in 1992 by Queens’ College, Cambridge.  This work is a cantata on the theme of love and winter, contained within a 7 movement symphonic structure.  Libretto by Ben Dunwell. A recording of Midwinter is available on the Tyalgum label recorded by the Brunel Ensemble and conducted by Christopher Austin.

“There is a risen religious and sensual ecstasy in the sung words 'It was the time of midwinter that our love began and the snow fell' but this is by no means restricted to this track. It also resounds through the closing pages of Miracle in which sacred and profane collide in careless abandon. 'Take your hand and lay it on my heart' speaks immediately and accessibly to the listener.”  Rob Barnett/ MusicWeb/ 1999

 

 

 

1.Prologue
Chorus
It was the time of mid winter when love began, the morning of our life.

Baritone
Clear and frozen, and the ground beneath us sleeping still.

Chorus
The morning of our life, such was the time our love began.
It was the time of midwinter when love began.

2. Autumn
Soprano/Baritone
How we remember the warm days
Slipping towards the frost, and the wind chill,
Gathering together all we needed for the winter.

Chorus
Harvesting provision for the Winter,
Laying deep foundations for our walls against the cold,
Young and old bound together,
Harvesting provision for the Winter.

Soprano/Baritone
Once, I remember, how we both grasped at the same fallen branch
Unwittingly, played at tug-of-war, and laughed and laughed.

3. Winter
Chorus
It is the time of midwinter when daylight grows old, bent and crooked,
Leant heavily on bare crooks of trees.
It is the time of midwinter when daylight fails
And the youngest may shiver to an early grave.
The distant sun may rise in the morning but the child will not.
Winter pinches the belly, pens us about in the smoky rooms.
Many go mad, for no matter what preparation against the cold
There is always the fear of fierce unexpected cold, of the last winter.
It is the time of midwinter when daylight grows old, bent and crooked,
The ground too hard even to dig a grave.
Sick and well, young and old
Sleep together wrapped against the cold season,
Sleep the Winter out, until a childs cry
Or an old man groaning wakes us all,
And we sit, stare at the embers,
Until the sleep returns.

4. Snow
Orchestral Interlude

5. Love
Baritone
Come, love follow if you can the secret passages of night.
Take my hand in the dark, follow close to me
The narrow path, the path of dreams

Baritone/Soprano
It was the time of Midwinter when our Love began,
And the snow fell.

Soprano
Love take your hand and lay it on my love
Come love follow if you can
The narrow path, the path of dreams
Take your hand and lay it on my love.
Baritone & Soprano Soloist
Take my hand and follow love.
Come love, follow

Baritone
Love take my hand down the secret path of dreams
And we lay, wrapped against the cold season with our love
And the snow fell silently and buried us as one.

6. Birth
Soprano
And once asleep I dreamed a birth
A woman’s birth
I saw her labour through the night
And heard her pain.
This birth was not easy,
No birth is easy but this labour was too painful
And I feared that she might die.
The child might die
Morning came, she rested best as she could
But then the pain returned
Screaming, I heard her screaming
And I feared that the child might die
It was the time of Midwinter when the child was born
And lived.
She held him close, held him so close
I wept for her in happiness
The morning of our life.

7. Miracle
Chorus
To see a child born in winter
To see a child born,
A miracle!
In the stillness of the cold, a beating heart
In the whiteness of the snow, a naked red
In the silence of the ice, a screaming breath
The fearsome wonder of a child born in winter
See the miracle.
The wonder of a child born in winter
The miracle of love.

8. Epilogue
Soprano/Baritone
Sleep has fallen from us like a veil
Faintly at first but then clearly
Someone calling
Follow through the snow of Midwinter
Leave the embers and follow
For we have heard a clear voice calling
Calling in the snow
Come love, follow,
Follow if you can the secret path of winter
You need no guide the walking is the prayer
And in the prayer the ending
For we have heard the clear voice calling
Calling us to follow in the path of winter
The secret path of love
The secret path of winter
Come love follow

Chorus
Come love follow
Follow if you can the secret path of winter
You need no guide
The waking is the prayer
The prayer the ending
Love, in the prayer the ending
Love is the morning of our life.

Soprano and Baritone
Hand in hand we walked the path of winter
The morning of our life
It was the time of Midwinter when Love began
The morning of our love

 

 

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