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Compositions

Several of our annual programs include compositions and arrangements written by Steven Darsey. Most of these were written especially for the service in which they appear and, similar to the services themselves, are rooted in tradition, but brought into modern parlance via contemporary, classical compositional techniques. Among these are his two-part setting of the camp meeting song, "Come Sing to Me of Heaven," where he, while retaining the integrity of the melody, adds counterpoint and harmony that explore and magnify its harmonic implications and heartrending sweep. His arrangement of "The Morning Trumpet" from The Sacred Harp, though cast in varying keys and forms of counterpoint, in the main uses notes and harmonies taken directly from the original source. Its accelerating power sounds with harrowing drama the pioneer's cry for the coming of Christ. In contrast is his harmonically lush arrangement of the sacred love song "Come Away to the Skies, My Beloved, Arise," which, drawing substance from the affective first phrase of the original Sacred Harp melody, through contemporary harmonies and striking counterpoint, weaves a longing paean of love for Christ. "Shall We Gather," originally written at the request of Fred B. Craddock, to be sung in two sections, separated by his sermon given at Emory's Candler School of Theology, in its virtuosic, stride Gospel piano accompaniment, portrays the river of God from pristine spring to holy, tidal torrent.

Mr. Darsey also writes wholly original works, for which he carefully selects texts and crafts music to explicate the author's embedded meaning. Thus far, these number some 125 and fall into the forms of folk song settings, classical art songs and choral pieces, sacred songs and anthems, cantata's and one oratorio, with accompaniments ranging from a cappella to full orchestra. His compositional style, sometimes described as similar to that of Vaughan Williams, is melodic, imbued with historical technique, often modal and contrapuntal, and while influenced by Paul Hindemith and evolving toward bi-tonality, is always written with aural primacy. Information about these may be obtained by writing info@meridianherald.org; several may be found for purchase at Lyra Sacra.

Of particular interest to Meridian Herald are his settings of Georgia poet, Sidney Lanier. These include "Life and Song," "Song of the Chattahoochee," and "The Marshes of Glynn." Mr. Darsey composed and conducted "Life and Song" in memory of the late conductor Robert Shaw at a concert with the Glenn Chancel Choir at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the Emory University campus, March 12, 2000. Among the charter goals of Meridian Herald is to support the composition of an oratorio on Sidney Lanier's "The Marshes of Glynn" by Steven Darsey. This now complete, we support the dissemination of this and other of Mr. Darsey's works. Please visit the links at right for more information on "Song of the Chattahoochee" and "The Marshes of Glynn."

 

The Marshes of Glynn >

Song of the Chattahoochee >


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