night prairie (1995)


  • 4
  • SATB Choir

Score Excerpts

Sound Samples

Program Notes

Night Prairie was written in the fall of 1995, to fulfill a request from Winnipeg conductor Henry Engbrecht for a new piece for his ensemble The University of Manitoba Singers. Henry requested a short work which would explore timbral and sound effects. I turned, as I often do when looking for texts, to the beautiful and evocative poetry of Dennis Cooley, and found in this case a poem from his 1992 collection This Only Home:

night prairie

an immensity i saw once
: night on the prairies
an enormous sky far as you can see
the earth lets go in yeast
a shrill sun filled
with insects & wind
: all of it — scooped out
a huge excavation of light
so that darkness pours

seas of it
at night fills the land
& at the top
the heavy water
hard as iron
where the torch blows through
: millions of bright insects
© 1992 Dennis Cooley – used by permission

In my setting I have tried to capture some of the sense of wonder contained in the poem. To that end I have incorporated invented syllables, whispers and glissandi in the choral writing.