Last Words

Last Words

Voicing: SATB divisi, with octet
Accompaniment:  a cappella

Text:

Why have you, God, forsaken me?
(Mark 15:34)           
Father, forgive. They know not what they do
(Luke 23:34)
Today you will be with me in paradise.
(Luke 23:34)
Woman, behold your son.
(John 19:26)
I thirst.
(John 19:28)             
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
(Luke 23:46)
It is finished.
(John 19:30) 
                                           

Notes:

Spread among the three Gospel crucifixion stories are seven evocative statements by Jesus, collectively known as the Seven Last Words of Christ.  In this piece, these statements are set using a blend of English and Latin text--the combination designed to evoke a sense of timelessness.  The use of an octet within the larger choir serves to reinforce the personal, intimate nature of these words.  Harmonically, the piece seeks to capture the inherent tension and drama of the story as told in the Gospels.

Studio Recording:  Matthew Curtis and Choral Tracks studio recording

In the Beginning

In the Beginning

Kyle Pederson (2015)

Voicing: SATB with divisi
Accompaniment:  a cappella, optional clarinet

Text:

In the beginning.  
In the beginning, God. 
In the beginning, God moved.

And then God spoke.  
God spoke creation into being. 
And of the new creation, God declared it good. 

Good were the earth and the waters.
Good were the evening and the day.
Good were the living things that first drew breath.
Good were the creatures made in God's image.

And in the beginning was the Word.  
The Word would become flesh and dwell among us.

In Him was light.  In Him was life.  
The light was given for us; it overcame the darkness. 

In Him was grace and truth. 
And we have seen his glory. 

Emmanuel. 
In the beginning.  
In the beginning, God.

Notes:

Lyrically, this piece seeks to bridge the Old and New Testament stories of creation.  

Musically, the piece establishes a deliberate cadence and pacing--symbolizing the centrality of God in the beginning--and then gradually adds elements of the creation story with increasing movement and complexity.  Intentional pauses at the end of most measures throughout the piece add weight to the text and help establish a rhythm of the creative process.  The free-flowing clarinet accompaniment (optional) symbolizes the creative movement and spirit that blows through all of creation.

Five Solas

Five Solas 

Voicing: SATB with alto and soprano soloists
Accompaniment:  a cappella

Text:

Credo in fidem solam, pensito
Credo in solam gratiam, meditor
Credo in Christum solum
Credo in solam scripturam
Deo soli gloria

Approximate translation:

Faith alone. Grace alone. Christ alone. Word alone. 
To God alone be the glory. I ponder all this in my heart.

Notes:
2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation.  The "Five Solas" are five Latin phrases that emerged over the course of that Reformation, and are (summary) principles of that history-defining movement.  This piece seeks to evoke a bit of the ancient vibe associated with these phrases, integrating a recurring chant-like mantra throughout.  At the same time, the piece seeks to capture a sense of modernity with the modern chord progressions and harmonic suspensions.  In this way, the piece seeks to bridge the ancient and contemporary--and affirm the power of these timeless, credal beliefs.

Audio Recording:  Matthew Curtis and Choral Tracks studio recording

Can We Sing the Darkness to Light

Can We Sing the Darkness to Light

Kyle Pederson (2016)

Voicing: SATB
Accompaniment:  Piano

Text:

What if instead of more violence
We let our weapons fall silent?
No more revenge or retribution
No more war or persecution.

It could be beautiful.

What if instead of our judgment
We soften our hearts that have hardened?
Instead of certainty and pride
We love and sacrifice.

It could be beautiful.

Can we see the other as our brother?
Can we sing the darkness to light?
Sounding chords of compassion and grace
Set the swords of judgement aside

Let mercy's eyes
See the other human face.

Notes:
The text invites the listener to imagine a world without weapons or war--where the human experience is defined not through continued judgment of others, but through the lens of mercy and compassion.  It could be beautiful. 

Recording Choir:  David Ostenso Moore directing the First Readings Project

Video Courtesy St. Olaf College. Used By Permission

Let All with Life and Breath

Let All with Life and Breath

Kyle Pederson (2015)

Voicing: SATB
Accompaniment: Piano, with optional narration during introduction

Text: Based on Psalm 150 and Isaiah 43

Let all with life and breath come praise the Lord.
Alleluia!

"I have called your name.
I have called you mine.
When you walk through waters deep
I will lift you high.
When you walk through fire
Flames shall not consume nor burn you.
I will gather east and west and north and south,
All peoples and nations;
All my sons and daughters from the corners of the earth
Lift your voice."

Let all with life and breath come praise the Lord--
Alleluia!

 

Notes:
Composed for an exiled Hebrew nation, Isaiah speaks a powerful and poetic word of hope and promise. The free-flowing piano accompaniment in this musical setting represents the movement of God’s spirit-- stirring and moving throughout creation—reminding us who and Whose we are.

Recording Choir: David Ostenso Moore directing the First Readings Project
Audio Note: Audio will not match the score precisely (a few voicing and text revisions since recording)

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter 

Kyle Pederson (2016)

Voicing: SATB
Accompaniment:  Piano

Text:

Into the pall of winter's day
when dark descends and daylight fades
Into the cold of wint'ry night
When breath will hang as heavy ice
Into the bleak December land
where earth is fixed--and frozen stands
Into a world of dark and gloom
A child will come in manger soon

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow

In the bleak mid-winter
long ago(C. Rossetti) 

Into the bleak of my own soul
You gently lay a seed to grow
And soon the seed becomes a tree
that offers shade through Christ in me
What right should I share in this gift
of perfect love, Who was and is--
No right at all, but simply grace
Your seed turned tree--now holy space

Come quickly, come, Oh Spirit breath
And all creation may you bless
Our mangers wait--just wood and dust
Oh Spirit breathe--enliven us
Even the heav'ns cannot contain
The hope and joy which has a name
Into our manger hearts we gaze
Where God in flesh has now been laid. 

In the bleak midwinter,
Christ, Emmanuel.

Notes:
This piece pairs the iconic melody of Gustav Holst's In the Bleak Midwinter with a lesser known, but equally beautiful melody by Bruce Becker, originally set to the text of The Tree of Life.  In this arrangement, the composer weaves both melodies together, and integrates Christina Rossetti's classic text with newly crafted lyrics speaking to the anticipation and meaning of Christmas.

Audio Recording Note:  “Matthew Curtis and Choral Tracks studio recording” 

How Sweet the Sound

How Sweet the Sound

Kyle Pederson (2016)


Voicing: SATB divisi, with male soloist
Accompaniment: a cappella
Text:

I found myself in trouble
I could not sing, oh I was wallowing
when I found myself in trouble.
I got no one left to blame
How could I sing when I was wallowing?

I got no one left to blame.
I hung my head in shame
How could I sing, oh I was wallowing
As I hung my head in shame.

Grace on grace we have all received
when the Son sets you free
you are free indeed.

Rise and walk,
hang your head no more
when the Son sets you free
you are free indeed.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound--
saved a soul like me.

I am covered by His grace.
How sweet the sound.

 

How Sweet the Sound - thumbnail.png

Notes:

This spiritual witnesses to soul-freeing grace. The soloist and choir affirm that no trouble, no shame, no valley is too deep for the healing gift and power of grace. The text pairs the core message of Newton's "Amazing Grace" with elements of the Gospel of John, and brings them to life in this thrilling musical setting.

Recording Choir: David Ostenso Moore directing the First Readings Project
Audio Note: Audio will not match the score precisely (a few voicing and text revisions since recording)

Christ, Be Born in Us v

Christ, Be Born In Us

Kyle Pederson (2015)

Voicing: SATB
Accompaniment:  Piano

Text:

Christ, be born in us--
born into our world.
Birth a new beginning, 
peace in all the earth.

Move now among your people--
bid us to your truth.
Reconcile the nations; 
join them all in you.

Christ, be born in us--
born into our hearts.
Heal and piece together
what life has torn apart.

Move now among your people--
bid us to your truth.
Speak light into our darkness;
join us all in you.

Come in spirit, come in truth
be born within, be born anew.

Christ, be born in all--
radiate creation.

Summon the earth you fashioned,
breathe your life in us again.

Join our song together
in perfect unison--
unite our voice together;
Christ, join us together;

Join us all in you.

Awards/Recognition:
First place, International Lutheran Youth Choir Choral Composition Contest, 2015


The text of this piece was inspired by a conviction that the deepest meanings of Christmas are alive and meaningful throughout the year…in April, July, and of course, late December. At heart, the text is a prayer; we pray that Christ be born into our hearts, into our world, and into the entire creation each and every day. We pray that God’s loving, redemptive power radiate through all that God has made, and that all people and nations may be joined together.

Recording Choir:  David Ostenso Moore directing the First Readings Project
Audio Note: Audio will not match the score precisely (a few voicing and text revisions since recording)

Psallite

Psallite

Kyle Pederson (2015)

Voicing: SSAA
Accompaniment:  a cappella

Text: Blend of Latin and English text:

Sing!
Sing together, sing as one;
Sing for life, for love, for light,
Sing for friends who stay your side;
Sing for tears, sing for joy, 
Sing for hope, sing for home; 
Sing for moon and sun that shine,
Sing for touch and sing for time;
Sing
 

1st place, Little Singers of Armenia competition (2015/16)

STARS

STARS

Voicing: SATB with occasional divisi
Accompaniment:  a cappella

Text:

Legacies of light
Ages ago you spun light into the bleak
Ancient light lands in tonight’s sky
Ancient light falls on my eye
And I?
A star
Sacred stellar dust casting light out through time
In whose sky will my light fall?
-Kyle Pederson (2015)

Stars+cover.png
AWARDS/RECOGNITION:
  • Second place in the 2016 Cerddorion Ensemble (NYC) Emerging Composer Competition
  • Will appear on the upcoming New Choral Series Vol II, produced by Ablaze Records

Stars was born out of a life-long fascination with the night sky, and the text is a meditation on the interconnectedness of creation.  The light from distant stars takes eons to reach our eyes, connecting us with an ancient past.  And many elements that comprise our bodies were cast out of stars millions upon millions of years ago.  Since we are the “stuff of stars,” where will we cast our own light?  Whose world will we impact? Harmonically, the piece seeks to evoke the vastness and mystery of space, while simultaneously capturing the intimacy of connection.