• Joan Tower
  • Descending (2012)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • SATB a cappella
  • 6 min 30 s

Programme Note

First performance:
March 3 2013
New York Virtuoso Singers
Harold Rosenbaum, conductor
Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY

Composer note:
Descending for chorus (2013) is only my third work involving the voice. The first was Can I composed for the New York-based youth choir project Transient Glory. The second was Up High for the soprano Dawn Upshaw. Walking into the vocal world at this later stage in my life has been challenging. I believe that the mix of words and music as representing two different types of expression creates a kind of "split" set of meanings. For a basically instrumental composer like myself (also for Beethoven and Tchaikovsky who had their own problems writing for voice), the musical expression is more subjective and abstract without the words. To ease this challenge, in Descending, the words are kept to a bare minimum. They are directed towards loss and grief, and the surrounding vowels are used to place more emphasis on the pure expression of those feelings.

My older sister Ellen and my dearest friend passed away in October of 2012. The work is dedicated to her memory with love.

— Joan Tower