Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in 1844 and died in 1889 at the age of 45. His poems illustrate an extraordinary sensitivity to gracefulness and beauty in nature and in mankind. The musicality, honesty, passion, and penetration of the poems of Hopkins attract me to his work for our project.
Knowing that the work would premiere in the Saint-Denis' Basilica, it seemed fitting in so many ways to set these texts as Gerard Manley Hopkins was a Jesuit priest and his poems approach the world with a deep devotion to God.
I tried to set the two texts in an extremely "musical" manner, listening to the sound of the poems and deeply understanding their meaning in my heart and soul.
There is a brief orchestral interlude between the two movements and, throughout the score, the children's chorus is divided into several subdivisions (2,4,6,8, etc.) allowing for rich harmonies, counterpoint, and antiphonal sections.
The words and meanings of these Hopkins texts are so intensely mature while at the same time so playful. For this reason, I used a solo soprano as well as a children's chorus. Having a mature voice in the solo soprano along with young voices seems to capture for me the essence of the poems and their spirituality.
Augusta Read Thomas