WHITMAN'S AMERICA



Performed By: The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Richard Zielinski, conductor

Instrumentation:
SATB a cappella chorus

Text: Walt Whitman

Duration: 4 minutes

Commissioned By:
Jay B. and Marsha Starkey for The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay for its Inaugural Discover! New Music Concert Series March, 2007 Richard Zielinski, music and artistic director; Libby Larsen, composer-in-residence

Premiere:
March 2, 2007 by the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Richard Zielinski, conductor, at Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church, Tampa, FL

Available From:
Libby Larsen Publishing

Composer's Notes:
“Allons!” cries Whitman as he invites us on his robust journey in search of the essence of his America. With Whitman as our guide, we are infused with the tremendous energy of a nation at work building itself—its people in all walks of life, its roads, its byways, houses, fields, mountain, rivers, and plains.  Whitman’s sublime poetry allows us to experience the vast stretches of humanity and hope which define us to the world as American.
 
The neighborhood gang of my 1950’s childhood was quite a group.  There were about fifteen of us and we all loved adventure. Lucky us that in the middle of the city we had an entire block of undeveloped land full of trees and high grass at our disposal. This was a chameleon bit of turf.  On any given day it was our baseball field, our Jungle, our Sherwood Forest, our Alaska—any backdrop we could imagine. On summer days and nights we would gather and one of us would shout “Avanti!”, “Allons!” or “To the boats!” and off we would go. I think Walt Whitman would have fit right in.  Of course, it was Whitman’s definition of the spirit of America which propelled our little neighborhood group to see a city block as a boundless, unexplored, exciting future.
 
I composed Whitman’s America in this spirit.  Though the neighborhood gang on the risers is bigger and older than my childhood one, the spirit is the exactly the same. Allons! Let all of us, singers and audience, look about again with fresh eyes, and feel our fresh spirit, our vigor, and our future.
 
— Libby Larsen, January 2007