"We Must Be Slow" performed by the Northwestern University Singers, dir. Albert Pinsonneault:
composer’s note: When Bob Cowles first asked me about writing a piece for the Hobart & William Smith Colleges Cantori, I first wanted to know all about this amazing choir, an ensemble that exists for the sole purpose of rehearsing and performing new works of choral music once a year. One of the things I find so moving about the HWS Cantori is the way in which Dr. Cowles takes amateur college singers and works with them so extensively on a single piece of repertoire that they are able to transcend their “amateur college choir” status and create a truly impressive performance.
Because of that large amount of time the choir was willing to dedicate to my music, I wanted to choose a subject matter that would really speak to college students, and give them a lot to think about. So I chose my favorite poet from when I was a college student myself: Kenneth Patchen, whose passionate poetry about the state of the world and the fight against death spoke so vividly to my 18-year-old soul when I first read it. And so this piece, “All Weeping Things,” is about the big questions in life, the kind of subjects it feels good to ponder for a long while. And the music is also big, creating bold dramatic shapes and highly specific text settings that reveal increasing levels of detail the more time one spends with them.