Bourland choral music: Dickinson Madrigals, Bk1 (1980)

July 2, 2009

Dickinson Madrigals, Book 1 (1980) mp3

1. My cocoon tightens
2. Luna
3. I showed her sights
4. Of their peculiar light
5. Answer July

Music: Roger Bourland
Poetry: Emily Dickinson
Published by ECS Publishing, Boston
Tim Mukherjee conducting the Red Sneakers Women’s Chorus


In Boston in 1980, six very different twenty-something-aged composers got together and formed a composer collective called THE COMPOSERS IN RED SNEAKERS. I was one of those composers, and, after Christopher Stowens magical and humorous electro-acoustic introduction, the lights went up and a chamber women’s choir stood there and sang my Dickinson Madrigals, Book 1 (1980). My Harvard classmate, Tim Mukherjee did a good job pulling the piece together, and the women, despite a few wrong notes here and there, did a great job on a tricky piece. The opening was a little shaky because they had just heard Chris’s intro, the lights came on, had to find their pitch, get the piece going, and try to not be nervous.

It was around this time that I was working part-time for Randall Thompson. He introduced me to the Sacred Harp singing tradition and the wonders of choral music. I composed a set of hymns under him.

This work shows Thompson’s influence, but also David Crosby’s. In fact, I played this piece for David and said it had a lot of him in it. He didn’t hear it. This piece caught the attention of EC Schirmer who later offered me an exclusive contract.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

daviddas July 3, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I had no idea you worked with Randall Thompson, one of my choral composer heroes. After I devoured much of his choral work, I actually began delving into his non-choral work like his symphonies and piano works, which, while not as recognized as his choral work, are quite interesting.

One of these days I shall have to take you out for a lunch and pick your brain. 🙂

Thanks for posting all these choral works, which I am really enjoying listening to. I used to write large quantities of choral music and arrangements, but haven’t done much in recent years, and miss it.

Previous post:

Next post: