Joshua Fishbein: No union is more profound

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,composers,family,gay & lesbian,love,men's,women's,YRM | Saturday, October 17th, 2015

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Do you remember when you first heard about the Supreme Court’s landmark, history-making ruling this past June in the case Obergefell v. Hodges which granted same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide?

New YRM writer Joshua Fishbein had just moved back to the Washington, D.C. area from Nevada. He was driving in his car, listening to NPR, and was ecstatic when he heard the news! In particular Joshua was struck by Justice Anthony Kennedy‘s majority opinion, the penultimate paragraph of which was shared in the NPR report.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” ~Justice Anthony Kennedy

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Joshua found this paragraph to be “poetically written, moving and naturally well-suited to music. Kennedy knew he was making history when he wrote those lines.” He felt so inspired by these words that he did set them to music, and YRM is fortunate and proud to be able to present this new publication to our customers!

No union is more profound for solo and TBB or SSA a cappella (click on each voicing to view a partial score PDF).

After the chorus sings the opening two lines (which express an universal message about marriage), the soloist enters in recitative style, representing the voice of Justice Kennedy, while the rest of the ensemble acts more as a backup choir. Joshua explains,

“In this way the setting was influenced by my background in Jewish liturgical music, where the choral parts, subservient to the melody sung by the cantor, often exist for harmonic support and to echo the cantor.”

This piece is written in a contrapuntal style with certain words and phrases repeated in order to emphasize them. He chose to leave out the final short paragraph “The judgment… is reversed. It is so ordered.” And rather than end the piece with “The Constitution grants them that right,” the first line is repeated as a musical bookend.

Joshua hopes that the audience who hears this work will be impacted by the monumental change embodied by Justice Kennedy’s words.

“I want them to hear the universal love represented by marriage, as well as the gravitas of these cases, in which both men and women were deprived of the fulfillment of marriage and equal dignity in the eyes of the law. At the same time, I also want the audience to hear optimism in the circumstances surrounding these words.”

John Shea: New YRM composer!

Publisher | choral music,composers,family,mixed,sacred,uu | Thursday, June 7th, 2007

John Shea

We’d like to officially welcome John Shea into the YRM “home” of composers!

John’s day job is as an associate professor of economics at the University of Maryland at College Park. He has a great passion for music as well, and has an active life as a composer and musician. He sings in his local UU choir and is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network. He has studied composition with Tom Benjamin, whom he considers a mentor in the world of choral music.

John writes appealing, tonal choral music featuring strong melodies and a variety of styles, including Latin jazz, gospel and pop. YRM is proud to publish two of John’s choral compositions:

A Mother’s Carol, for SATB chorus, bass (optional) and piano, is a jazz waltz setting of a text written by his wife, April Lee. The lyrics express a mother’s concerns and hopes for her newborn child. Click here to view the first six pages of the score.

When There is Light in the Soul, for solo voice, SATB chorus and piano, is a gospel-style waltz setting of a well-known Chinese proverb. Click here to view the first six pages of the score.

Diane Benjamin: Snow Might Fly

Publisher | choral music,composers,family,winter season,women's | Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Snowflake

June through July seems to be the season when most choruses begin planning their winter/holiday concerts. So, to help acquaint you with what YRM offers for your concert programming needs, we’ll frequently be posting over the next couple of months about new pieces and catalog favorites that feature themes of winter time and of the holidays… Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice.

First up is a new piece by Diane Benjamin titled Snow Might Fly, composed for SAA, oboe and piano. This music is a joyous and exuberant setting of Becky Karush’s lyrics about a moment captured on a wintry day. Nostalgia, family, nature… a simpler life.

Snow Might Fly (view the first four pages of the score by clicking on the link)

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