TOUCH THE AIR SOFTLY



Performed By: Las Cantantes, Bradley Ellingboe, conductor

Instrumentation:
SSAA a cappella chorus

Text: William Jay Smith

Duration: 3 minutes 30 seconds

Premiere:
February 14, 2001 by Las Cantantes, Bradley Ellingboe, conductor, at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Available From:
Libby Larsen Publishing

Composer's Notes:
I grew up in a family populated with women. My grandmother had six sisters and no brothers. My mother’s only sibling was a sister. My father had two sisters but no brothers; and I, also brother-less, have four sisters. One hundred years and three generations of women in our family have given me a treasure chest of folk wisdom.
 
My aunt Pat, an artist herself, told me about brooms and the folklore connected to them. I can’t quite recall, but she may have been creating her own art brooms at the time. I was quite curious about this fantastic folk-art and soon discovered that there were many traditions, legends, and superstitions surrounding brooms. Brooms have been used to sweep away evil and bad fortune, and it is said that a new broom can bring good luck. In fact, this tradition extends into housewarming gift giving, for a new broom brings not only good luck to a new home, but also harmony.  It’s been told that one should never bring an old broom to a new home in fear that it may cause bad luck. Along with this folklore, an old Welsh custom calls for newlyweds to enter their new home by stepping over a broom in order that luck may follow them. Similarly, in a marriage festival or ceremony, if a bride and groom hold hands and jump over a broom, good luck and fortune will flourish in their union.
 
William Jay Smith’s Touch the Air Softly is an ode to the air around the broom which brings good luck and fortune to those newly joined—newlyweds, new parents, new partners, new homes, new love.
 
— Libby Larsen
November 2005