for SATB choir; 6' (2003) (commissioned by the Bel Canto Singers)
1. spring omnipotent goddess thou 2. spring is like a perhaps hand
performed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chorale (#1) and the Festival Choir of Madison (#2):
composer's note: The first of these settings, "spring omnipotent goddess thou," is written in strict four-part canon, with 100% exact imitation between the voices, up until the last line ("ragging the world"). That 4-part canon makes it relatively simple to rehearse, as it was written for amateur choirs to be able to perform. But it also creates a very complex texture, full of harmonic explorations, textural contrasts, and florid counterpoint.
The second song, "spring is like a perhaps hand," begins much more simply, with the entire choir singing a unison melody. As opposed to the exuberance and wildness of the first poem, in this text Cummings portrays spring as being careful, deliberate, and exacting, and the musical content reflects that mood of restraint. But as the song goes on, each part becomes more and more separated from the others, so that the texture gradually thickens into a full, lush (like spring!) choral sound.