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Cloudburst

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  • SATB & Percussion
  • Wind Ensemble

SATB & Percussion

Duration

8.5 minutes

Year of Composition

1995

Difficulty

Intermediate-Advanced

Licensing

GIA Publications

Purchase

GIA Publications

Note from Composer

After a performance of Go, Lovely Rose in 1991, Dr. Jocelyn K. Jensen approached me about writing a piece for her High School Choir. She is an amazing conductor, legendary for doing crazy things on stage (choralography, lighting, costumes, you name it), and I wanted to write something for her that would really knock the audience out. I had recently been given an exquisite book of poems by Octavio Paz, and around the same time I witnessed an actual (breathtaking) desert cloudburst, and I guess it just all lined up. The finger snapping thing (all of the singers snap their fingers to simulate rain) is an old campfire game that I modified for the work, and the thunder sheets were giant pieces of tin we took from the side of the school.

The piece was originally about ten minutes long, but Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe sagely convinced me to “tighten it up”. I did, and the piece (now a lean eight and a half minutes) was finally published in 1995.

“This is a contemporary choral classic and deserves its reputation.”
The Arts Desk

The Text

El cántaro roto

La lluvia…

Ojos de aqua de sombra,
ojos de agua de pozo,
ojos de aqua de sueño.

Soles azules, verdes remolinos,
picos de luz que abren astros
como granadas.

Dime, tierra quemada, no hay aqua?
hay sólo sangre, sólo hay polvo,
sólo pisadas de pies desnudos sobre la espina?

La lluvia despierta…

Hay que domir con los ojos abiertos,
hay que soñar con les manos,
soñemos sueños activos de río buscando su cauce,
sueños de sol soñando sus mundos,
hay que soñar en voz alta,
hay que cantar hasta que el canto eche,
raíces, tronco, ramas, pájaros, astros,
hay que desenterrar la palabra perida,
recordar lo que dicen la sangre y la marea,
le tierra y el cuerpo,
volver al punto de partida…

The broken water-jar

The rain…
Eyes of shadow-water,
eyes of well-water,
eyes of dream-water.

Blue suns, green whirlwinds,
birdbeaks of light pecking open
pomegranate stars.

But tell me, burnt earth, is there no water?
Only blood, only dust,
Only naked footsteps on the thorns?

The rain awakens…

We must sleep with open eyes,
we must dream with our hands,
we must dream the dreams of a river seeking its course,
of the sun dreaming its worlds,
we must dream aloud,
we must sing till the song puts forth roots,
trunk, branches, birds, stars,
we must find the lost word,
and remember what the blood,
the tides, the earth, and the body say,
and return to the point of departure…

Octavio Paz, 1914-1998
(Adapted by Eric Whitacre, Translation by Lysander Kemp)

Instrumentation

SATB Chorus
Piano
Handbells
Suspended Cymbal
Windchimes
Bass Drum
Thunder Sheets

Wind Ensemble

Duration

8.5 minutes

Year of Composition

2001

Difficulty

Level 4.5

Licensing

GIA Publications

Purchase

Hal Leonard

Perusal Score

View

Note from Composer

After a performance of Go, Lovely Rose in 1991, Dr. Jocelyn K. Jensen approached me about writing a piece for her High School Choir. She is an amazing conductor, legendary for doing crazy things on stage (choralography, lighting, costumes, you name it), and I wanted to write something for her that would really knock the audience out. I had recently been given an exquisite book of poems by Octavio Paz, and around the same time I witnessed an actual (breathtaking) desert cloudburst, and I guess it just all lined up. The finger snapping thing (all of the singers snap their fingers to simulate rain) is an old campfire game that I modified for the work, and the thunder sheets were giant pieces of tin we took from the side of the school.

The piece was originally about ten minutes long, but Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe sagely convinced me to “tighten it up”. I did, and the piece (now a lean eight and a half minutes) was finally published in 1995.

“This is a contemporary choral classic and deserves its reputation.”
The Arts Desk

Instrumentation

Piccolo
Flutes 1 & 2
Oboes 1 & 2
Clarinets in B♭ 1, 2 & 3
Bass Clarinet in B
Bassoons 1 & 2
Alto Saxophones in E1 & 2
Tenor Saxophone in B
Baritone Saxophone in E
Trumpets in B 1, 2 & 3
Horns in F 1, 2, 3 & 4
Trombones 1 & 2
Bass Trombone
Baritone
Tubas 1 & 2
Piano
Handbells
Timpani
Percussion 1
Vibraphone
Slap-stick
Percussion 2
Suspended Cymbal
Percussion 3
Chimes
Crotales (bowed)
Bass Drum
Percussion 4
Glass Chimes
Crash Cymbal
Mark Tree
Tam-Tam

Perusal Score