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Songs in Wood by DAVID BRUCE


These four short poems on a theme of wood/forests are inspired by Japanese haiku, particularly those by Buson. Like haiku, they each attempt to capture a small but multi-layered idea in which the listener/reader is forced to find their own interpretation. The music hopefully both underlines each poem's idea and meaning, whilst also amplifying their ambiguity and mystery. Inevitably this approach leaves me reluctant to say more about the work, but I will say that whilst the wood of the title obviously refers in part to the marimba, I often thought of the choir themselves as a 'singing forest' - so one way to listen to the piece is to imagine that it is the forest itself that is singing throughout. I will also say that in the third song, Humbaba was the monstrous giant, guardian of the Ceder Forest in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

David Bruce 16 March 2011

A thousand singing leaves,
black singing leaves-
the blackbird tree.
Sing with me to the resounding dawn!

rain whisper
rain caress
rain glisten
rain promise
rain desire
rain burn
rain fire
rain flinch
rain terror
rain torn
rain singe
rain seize
rain crush
rain conquer
rain master
rain worship
rain welcome
rain nourish
rain comfort
rain kiss
rain peace

This cold winter night,
I will turn to fire.
Humbaba is dead.
Come into the light!

How can you know loneliness
when you are one leaf
in a forest of leaves?

Press / Latest Reviews


for Choir & Marimba

Choir SATB
Marimba (5 Octave)

Duration 12mins
Composed Feb-March 2011
First performance Cantori New York, Makoto Nakura (marimba) Church of the Holy Trinity, NYC, May 7 2011
Commissioned by ISGM New Music Fund for Makoto Nakura

Past Performances

  • May 7 2011
    Church of the Holy Trinity, NYC (Cantori New York, Makoto Nakura marimba) (world premiere)

  • Oct 2 2011
    Alti, Kyoto, Japan (Kyoto Gewandhauschor, Makoto Nakura)

  • Sep 12 2012
    BBC Radio 3 In Tune Broadcast (Makoto Nakura, Kyoto Gewandhaus Choir)

  • Sep 14 2012
    St. Mary the Virgin, Buckland, Oxfordshire (Makoto Nakura, Kyoto Gewandhaus Choir)

  • Sep 15 2012
    The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Hambleden, Henley-on-Thames (Kyoto Gewandhauschor, Makoto Nakura)

  • Sep 16 2012
    St. John the Evangelist, Oxford (Makoto Nakura, Kyoto Gewandhaus Choir)

  • Nov 2 2012
    Kobe Shinbun Matsukata Hall, Kobe, Japan (Makoto Nakura)

  • Nov 1 2013
    Kobe Bunka Hall, Kobe, Japan (Makoto Nakura)

Related Posts

 • Forthcoming premieres & performances (5/1/2011)


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