A Herrick Suite

Allen Brings

About this work:
A Herrick Suite was composed during the summer of 1977 in response to a suggestion made earlier that year by music educator and conductor, Lawrence Eisman. Designed primarily for performance by mixed choruses of youngsters some of whose voices may still be changing, A Herrick Suite employs diatonic materials almost exclusively and vocal ranges that are considerate of young voices. Although the music is plainly centered around one or another tonal center, its harmonic vocabulary is by no means restricted to the traditional triad; indeed it is in the rich way in which intervals are combined that shows the music to be truly of the twentieth century. Originally scored only for piano, the accompaniment of A Herrick Suite was later orchestrated to make it attractive to community choruses of limited means. What unifies the five contrasting movements of this suite besides the common threads that run through the poetry of Herrick himself is principally the sense of key, the consistency of the harmonic language, and the occasional restatement of thematic fragments heard in earlier movements. For these reasons the work is a true suite, that is, an orderly arrangement of otherwise independent pieces, each capable of being performed separately as well as in the order specified by the composer. The texts of A Herrick Suite were drawn from the collection of his poems that the early seventeenth century English poet Robert Herrick published in 1648 as Hesperides (with Noble Numbers). Several of Herrick's most endearing themes were chosen as the basis for A Herrick Suite, some of which may be found in the first poem of the collection, entitled The Argument of his Book. It was from this poem that I chose the lines for the opening movement of A Herrick Suite. In moments of leisure I often find myself humming or whistling phrases from these songs so that I have become almost obsessed with some of their features. It would be my fondest hope that all who hear these songs and are touched by them will have similarly pleasurable recollections.
Version: four-part chorus of mixed voices and orchestra
Year composed: 1977
Duration: 00:07:30
Ensemble type: Chorus, with or without Solo Voices:Chorus with Orchestra
Instrumentation: 1 S, 1 A, 1 T, 1 B
Instrumentation notes: Small orchestra of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, double basses

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