Madonna of the Evening Flowers
for SATB choir and small orchestra (2011)
by Ron Hannah


Duration: about 6 minutes

     Upon my return to Canada after years of wandering the world, I resumed something I had been missing all that time: I joined a choir. It is a great joy to sing in a good choir, and when an orchestra is present also I find it difficult to keep singing - I just want to put down my music and listen. That difficulty showed itself very clearly one time during a performance of the Mozart Requiem, however I managed to get to the end after all, missing only one entry due to distraction!

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     I dedicated this work to the group, a non-professional community choir having the remarkable ability to bring off some very complex music. It was a pleasure to belong, but sadly, to my knowledge they have never performed it.

     Madonna of the Evening Flowers is lush, modern, somewhat dissonant, with care being taken to lead each voice smoothly and logically into each chord. The orchestra consists of single winds, a french horn, and strings. Putting it all together with words by Amy Lowell, my favourite poet, adds up to a work I am pleased with.

         Canterbury Bells
   Madonna of the Evening Flowers

   All day long I have been working,
   Now I am tired.
   I call: "Where are you?"
   But there is only the oak-tree rustling in the wind.
   The house is very quiet,
   The sun shines in on your books,
   On your scissors and thimble just put down,
   But you are not there.
   Suddenly I am lonely:
   Where are you? I go about searching.

   Then I see you,
   Standing under a spire of pale blue larkspur,
   With a basket of roses on your arm.
   You are cool, like silver,
   And you smile.
   I think the Canterbury bells are playing little tunes.

   You tell me that the peonies need spraying,
   That the columbines have overrun all bounds,
   That the pyrus japonica should be cut back and rounded.
   You tell me all these things.
   But I look at you, heart of silver,
   White heart-flame of polished silver,
   Burning beneath the blue steeples of the larkspur,
   And I long to kneel instantly at your feet,
   While all about us peal the loud, sweet, Te Deums of the Canterbury bells.

     Amy Lowell
's poetry is among the most evocative I have ever found. I have set, and re-set, her poems many times over the years. Please visit this link for a listing of all of my works on Miss Lowell's poetry; songs for solo voice and for choir, with chamber ensemble accompaniment, and with orchestral accompaniment as you see here. She is MY poet!

     A sample score can be obtained by clicking above, and full score and parts are available by sending me an email (below), or through the Canadian Music Center.
     Unfortunately, a sound file does not exist, but clicking on the bottom button will take you to many more orchestral works - most with at least MIDI sound files, though some live.
     One more thing: should you decide to perform this work, please, please, inform me so that I can keep my Performances page up-to-date!