Jonathan Santore, Composer
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Solstices

Listen to the piece performed live in a parking garage by the New Hampshire Master Chorale conducted by Dan Perkins, Emily Jaworski, mezzo-soprano soloist:


  • Rehearsal score (SATB/piano): $3 (for reproduction rights; minimum purchase of 10 required; additional charge for hard copies); full score: $20; set of parts: $20
  • For mezzo soprano, SATB chorus, strings, and percussion
  • Secular text: poems about the winter solstice, summer, and the sun
  • 8:30
  • Difficulty rating (1-5): 5
  • View a PDF score excerpt
  • Purchase, request full review copy or more information, etc.
  • Commissioned and premiered by the New Hampshire Master Chorale, Dan Perkins, Music Director

As someone who suffers from severe Seasonal Affective Disorder, a commission from the New Hampshire Master Chorale for a concert series around the summer solstice seemed particularly apt. As the days grow shorter in winter, I feel more and more imprisoned, and as the sun rises earlier and earlier with summer’s approach, I feel a strong sense of being released from bondage. I found a 9th Century Irish text that perfectly sums up my emotions surrounding the winter solstice, and poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and the traditional text “Sumer Is Icumen In” capture both the giddy freedom and the supernatural stillness I find in summer’s heat.

Recitative: I Have News for You

"I have news for you:
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds' wings;
season of ice, this is my news."

—Ireland, 9th Century

Sing, Cuccu

Sumer is icumen in, Lhude sing, cuccu;
Groweth sed
and bloweth med,
And springth the wode nu;
Sing, cuccu!

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calue cu;
Bulluc sterteth,
Bucke uerteth,

Murie sing, cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu;
Ne swic thu naver nu.

—England, 13th Century

The Gardener of the World

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

—from “Summer Sun,” Robert Louis Stevenson

The Summer Sun Shone Round Me

The summer sun shone round me,
The folded valley lay
In a stream of sun and odour,
That sultry summer day.

The tall trees stood in the sunlight
As still as still could be,
But the deep grass sighed and rustled
And bowed and beckoned me.

The deep grass moved and whispered
And bowed and brushed my face.
It whispered in the sunshine:
"The winter comes apace."

—Robert Louis Stevenson

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