PROGRAM NOTES: I was commissioned by Eugene Vocal Arts in 2014 through a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation's "Creative Heights” initiative to create the libretto and compose the music for a major work for chorus and orchestra on the subject of Alzheimer's demetia. After eight months researching both medical and personal aspects of Alzheimer's, including several interviews with care-partners (persons afflicted with dementia and their loved ones), I conceived a libretto in three parts with a total of sixteen movements, using quotes of patients, their lived ones, classic poetry of Dickinson and Rilke, hymn text and scripture, my own words, and compelling contemporary poetry directly related to Alzheimer's. "Shadow and Light, an Alzheimer's Journey in 16 Movements" was composed over the course of 2015 and is scored for SATB chorus, mezzo-soprano, tenor and soprano soli, and chamber orchestra (2,2,2,2 - 2hrn, 2 tpt, 2 perc, hrp, pno, strgs). My intent was to bear beautiful, loving witness to a growing population of care-partners that feels largely invisible and ignored, hoping to create something universal, beyond the scope of the disease. —Joan Szymko
"Love Bears All Things" is an expression of the enduring love that prevails when all else— all words, all memory, all physical function fails. This stand alone choral version of No.16 from "Shadow and Light" maintains the key aspect of the orchestral version: the unflagging piano ostinato. The violin and left hand piano parts provide original orchestral lines, while singers stand in for the string section at rehearsal letter "B" and again at "D".
For their April 2016 world premiere performance of “Shadow and Light,” Eugene Vocal Arts Chamber Choir was named winner of The American Prize: Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, 2016-17 (community division.) That premiere was met with accolades from audience, reviewers and from the granting foundation. Despite the tragic nature of the subject, chorus members, soloists and orchestra members found “Shadow and Light” a joy to perform. Commissioning Conductor Dr. Diane Retallack has remarked: “This is truly a masterwork and deserves a place in the standard choral repertory.”
|JS-076||SATB, sop & ten soli, piano, violin||4:45||$2.75||https://joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/16%20No.16%20Love%20Bears%20All%20Things_0.mp3|
|JS-076Ddigital download||SATB, sop & ten soli, piano,violin||$2.00|
|JS-087||SSAA, piano, violin, cello||4:45||$2.75||https://joanszymko.com/sites/joanszymko.com/files/audio_samples/16%20Love%20Bears%20All%20Things%28SSAA%29.mp3|