Someone Will Remember Us (download)
Ancient and spellbinding, this substantial work focuses on the strength of femininity.
(performed by University of Minnesota Women’s Choir, conducted by Emily Sweet)
Voicing: SSAA choir, violin, viola, cello, and harp
When asked to compose a piece for the WomanVoice festival on the theme of “Songs of Survival,” the Ancient Greek poetry of Sappho became an obvious choice. She was considered the most important lyric poet of Western Antiquity, and it was common for Greek and Latin writers to know the entire canon of her poems by heart. Her work survived and was constantly recopied until nearly A.D. 1000, when a wrathful church destroyed whatever it could find. Most of her poems have survived either as fragments in mutilated papyrus or in quotations by ancient writers.
– Jocelyn Hagen (2006)
Come to me now. Come to this holy temple
Where the graceful grove of apple trees circles an altar smoking with frankincense.
Here roses leave shadows on the ground and cold springs babble through apple branches
Where shuddering leaves pour down profound sleep.
The glow and beauty of the stars are nothing near the splendid moon
When in her roundness she burns silver about the world.
Now in my heart I see clearly a beautiful face shining, etched by love.
I could not hope to touch the sky with my two arms.
Love shook my heart like a wind on a mountain punishing oak trees.
The moon appeared in her fullness and women took their place around the altar.
And women sang a loud and heavenly song whose wonderful echo touched the sky.
Everywhere in the streets were bowls and cups.
Myrrh and cassia and incense rode on the wind.
Women danced supplely with light feet crushing the soft ﬂowers of grass.
I will love as long as there is breath in me.
Someone, I tell you, will remember us. Someone will remember us.
– Sappho, translated by Willis Barnstone, and adapted by Jocelyn Hagen
For advanced treble choirs who can embrace the lyrical poetry of Sappho, this song is a gem, as it evokes a haunting feeling of ancient Greece through the use of modal melodies and the accompaniment of strings and harp. Jocelyn gives wonderful melodic lines to all voices as the music explores ancient rituals of love, beauty, and nature. These melodies weave in and around each other creating rich dissonance and mesmerizing movement, graced with lyricism and lovely harmonies.