Ensemble: Gettysburg College Choir
Performance Date: March 24, 2012
Conductor: Robert Natter
Location: Christ Chapel at Gettysburg College
"Sonnet 29" is an a capella choral piece written for the Gettysburg College Choir in the Spring of 2012. Dr. Robert Natter, director of the College choir, asked me if I would like to write a piece with text of Shakespeare, as he was planning to program a concert that consisted entirely of Shakespearean text. I chose this particular sonnet because it has a great metaphor of transformation which lends itself well to being set to music. In the first half of the piece, the speaker is in utter despair, and I bring this out with clustered harmonies, quiet dynamics, and a somber atmosphere. Then, about halfway through the piece, the speaker has a change of heart after thinking of someone that he loves. His utter despair turns to utter joy, which is reflected by a change in texture, harmonic language, and volume. Upon first read of the text, one might assume that the speaker is an entirely different person than he was at the onset of the poem in that his despair has completely vanished. With the ending of my piece, I question if human emotion really works that way. To underscore this dichotomy, I combine the close harmonies of the first half of the piece with the new harmonic language of the second half to create an ending that is not entirely resolved.