each minim mote

(1996) 17′
mixed chorus, childrens choir, satb choir, percussion and narrator (actor/dancer)

Commissioned by Karin Barrett and the Minneapolis Vocal Consort in celebration of their tenth anniversary season and underwritten by the Minnesota Composers Forum with funds from the Jerome Foundation.

Program Notes

A choral work in nine sections with poetry by Pablo Neruda, Mary Jo Homstad, Denise Levertov and Walt Whitman


Sung in Spanish and English

Pablo Neruda

Tierra, devuélveme tus dones puros,               [Earth, give me back your pure gifts,
las torres del silencio que subieron                  the towers of silence which rose
de la solemnidad de sus raíces:                         from the solemnity of their roots:
quiero volver a ser lo que no he sido,              I want to go back being what I have not been,
aprender a volver desde tan hondo                  and learn to go back from such deeps
que entre todas las cosas naturales                  that amongst all natural things
pueda vivir o no vivir: no importa                      I could live or not live; it does not matter
ser una piedra más, la piedra oscura,              to be one stone more, the dark stone,
la piedra pura que se lleva el río.                      the pure stone which the river bears away.]

Mary Jo Homstad

One p.m.
The hour of the dreamer
the hour that digests
a sometimes lazy hour that leans on noon
It is the hour that sometimes wishes it could
trade places with another hour
It is the beginning of the downhill hours
It is the hour of the cat, cleaning, and

Denise Levertov

Praise wet snow
falling early.
Praise the shadow
my neighbor's chimney casts on the tile roof
even this gray October day that should, they say,
have been golden.
Praise the invisible sun burning beyond
the white cold sky, giving us
light and the chimney's shadow.
god or the gods, the unknown,
that which imagined us, which stays
our hand ,
our murderous hand,
and gives us
in the shadow of death,
our daily life,
and the dream still
of goodwill, of peace on earth.
flow and change, night and
the pulse of day.

Mary Jo Homstad

Eight a.m.
It is the hour of the dreamstealers, the hour
of the fish, the hour that is hooked and
brought flopping into the day
It is an hour of beginnings and endings
the hour of separation
It is the eye in the needle hour

Walt Whitman

Welcome are all the earth's lands, each for its kind,
Welcome are lands of pine and oak,
Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig,
Welcome are lands of gold,
Welcome are lands of wheat and maize, welcome are those of grape,
Welcome are the cotton lands, welcome those of the white potato and sweet potato,
Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prairies,
Welcome the measureless grazing-lands, welcome the teeming soil of orchards, flax, honey, hemp;
Welcome just as much the other more hard-faced lands,
Lands rich as lands of gold or wheat and fruit lands,
Lands of mines, lands of the manly rugged ores,
Lands of coal, copper, lead tin, zinc,
Lands of iron–lands of the make of the axe.

Denise Levertov

I believe the earth
exists, and
in each minim mote
of its dust the holy
glow of thy candle.
unknown I know
thou spirit,
lover of making, of the
wrought letter,
wrought flower,
iron, deed, dream.
Dust of the earth,
help thou my
unbelief. Drift,
gray become gold, in the beam of
vision. I believe with
doubt. I doubt and
interrupt my doubt with belief. Be,
beloved, threatened world.
Each minim
Not the poisonous
luminescence forced
out of its privacy,
the sacred lock of its cell
broken. No,
the ordinary glow
of common dust in ancient sunlight.
Be, that I may believe.

Mary Jo Homstad

It is the father hour
the hour of the magician putting back together
that which has been apart
It is an hour that sustains
It is an hour that will always be loyal
It is an hour that knows how to embrace
That hour that is mortar
The hour of the seamstress
It is the hour of the dog

Pablo Neruda

Ahora contaremos doce                               [And now we will count to twelve
y nos quedamos todos quietos.                   and we will all keep still.
Por una vez sobre la tierra                           For once on the face of the earth
no hablemos en ningún idioma,               let's not speak any language;
por un segundo detengámonos,                let's stop for one second,
no movamos tanto los braços.                  and not move our arms so much.
Sería un minuto fragante,                          It would be an exotic moment
sin prisa, sin locomotoras,                        without rush, without engines,
todos estaríamos juntos                             we would all be together
en una inquietud instantánea.                 in a sudden strangeness.
Los pescadores del mar frío                      Fishermen in the cold sea
no harían daño a las ballenas                 would not harm whales
y el trabajador de la sal                              and the man gathering salt
miraría sus manos rotas.(…)                    would look at his hurt hands.(…)
Tal vez la tierra nos enseñe                      Perhaps the earth can teach us
cuando todo parece muerto                       as when everything seems dead
y luego todo estaba vivo.                            and later proves to be alive.
Ahora contaré hasta doce                         Now I'll count up to twelve
y tú te callas y me voy.                                and you keep quiet and I will go.]

Mary Jo Homstad

It is a winter hour
an hour that stares into the fire and says very little
It is the hour of the searcher
the restless
the drunk
It is the hour that gives gifts to lovers
and solitude to scholars

Score Excerpts

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