The New Moon

for double mixed choir, water-tuned glasses, and chimes

The New Moon was Ēriks Ešenvalds’ contribution to Moon Songs, a 2012 collection of pieces about the moon by ten Latvian composers that was commissioned by the outstanding Riga-based youth choir Kamēr… (which translates as ‘While…’). The words are by the troubled and tragic Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sara Teasdale, who died by her own hand in 1933, and whom Ešenvalds has set on a number of occasions.

The opening chorale is a forthright one, accusing and angry, its diatonic dissonances intensified by sidesteps into homophonic canon. But as the moon is caught sight of ‘over the factories … in the cloudy seas’, the texture itself clouds over as the canonic iterations are gradually subsumed into an oscillating pair of thick, quiet chords. From the hard-won stillness a new chorale emerges as the ‘maiden moon wakes up in the sky’ (the moon is male in Latvian mythology, but not here). Tuned wine glasses and chimes create an other-worldly halo around this wondrous apparition, which eventually recedes into unresolved nothingness, as the afterglow resonates into silence.

— from notes by Gabriel Jackson © 2015

Read more
Youth Choir Kamēr… and Māris Sirmais, conductor
SSSAATTTBB, ch bells, water-tuned glasses
Sara Teasdale (1884–1933)
4 min
Youth Choir Kamēr… and conductor Māris Sirmais in the Great Hall of the University of Latvia, Riga on 25 February 2012
979-0-69795-266-9 (MB1354)
The Choir of Trinity College CambridgeNorthern Lights & other choral works