SATB, 11 part divisi
Duration: ca. 10 minutes
Programme Note: Quiver was commissioned by Dr. Ramona Luengen for the Phoenix Chamber Choir’s 25th anniversary. It was written in the summer of 2008.
The piece lasts roughly 10-minutes and is completely without text. The choir becomes an instrumental ensemble. The sounds are made either by vocalise – singing melismatic lines on vowel sounds – or by fast syllables which are reminiscent of scat singing. The concept for this comes from the music of Ward Swingle who took the idea of scat singing and applied it to the music of Bach. The starting point for Quiver was the simple question: What would The Swingle Singers do if they sang a contemporary instrumental piece?
Because there is no text, the piece relies heavily on colour. This colour comes from the way the sounds are made – whether they are sustained or not, what kind of syllable is used, and if a note is pitched or not pitched – and also from the blend of more than one type of sound and dynamic.
There is an entire section where the choir performs unpitched percussion syllables. The vocal percussion element is a feature of North Indian percussion and dance music, and is used to teach complicated rhythm patterns. The title is meant to describe some of these blended colours where sound shimmers, bounces, and vibrates.
Premiere: First performance by the Phoenix Chamber Choir, Vancouver, B.C., November 2008.