News & Views Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Like Dust I Rise Friday, April 06, 2018

recommended by Jen Sper & Alissa Ruth, School Choral Music Specialists

Maya Angelou is perhaps one of the most well-known and loved American poets and civil rights activists, and her words have now been set to song. Mark Hayes has created Still I Rise (A Choral Song Cycle), and each piece (arranged for SATB, SSAA, and TTBB) can be performed individually or as a 12-minute song cycle.

On the Pulse of MorningOn the Pulse of Morning
“In 1993, Maya Angelou recited “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, making her the first African American and the first female poet to deliver an inaugural recitation. Subsequently, Angelou’s audio recording of this poem won a Grammy Award for “Best Spoken Word” in 1994. Mark Hayes opens with a resounding “See Me Rise” choral fanfare before presenting the hope-filled latter half of the poem with rhythmic exuberance.

Caged BirdCaged Bird
“Caged Bird” is a folk-like setting of perhaps Maya Angelou’s most recognized poem, which compares a bird’s longing to be liberated with that of all people. Hayes chooses a minor key with plenty of harmonic tension and a walking tempo that suggests the footsteps of those who have come before. The final Picardy third is the ultimate symbol of freedom.

“Equality” is written in the contemporary, gospel-style serving as a choral anthem for equal rights which includes a confident solo voice to deliver the determined message. If performing as a set, an alternate ending segues into the closing movement of “Like Dust I Rise.” When the piece is performed separately, Hayes has written an upward modulation that propels us to the final, most spirited refrain.

Still I RiseStill I Rise
“Still I Rise” is one of Angelou’s most popular poems about triumph over adversity. This vivid setting by Mark Hayes features a bright shuffle tempo and bluesy piano riffs to perfectly embody Angelou’s strength, courage, and determination to rise above. One of the most uplifting choral selections of our time!”

About the Authors:
Jen Sper has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, she holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. An active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.

Alissa Ruth began working at Stanton’s in the summer of 2016. She is a former middle and high school choir director and holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Capital University. She is an active choral singer in the United States and spends her free time running, doing yoga, cooking, and watching Netflix.

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