George Walker

Cantata for Soprano, Tenor, Boys Choir and Chamber Orchestra

   The Cantata for Soprano, Tenor, Boys Choir and Chamber Orchestra was commissioned by the Boys Choir of Harlem.  It was completed in April of 1982.  The premiere of the work was given at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 20th, 1982.

    The Cantata is a setting of Psalm 23 and four verses from Psalm 24 in the King James version of the New Testament.  The instrumentation consists of one flute alternating with alto flute, two oboes, three trumpets, timpani and strings.  In the percussion section crotales, triangle, glockenspiel, vibraphone and suspended cymbals are used.

    The work is divided into two parts.  An introduction suggests the pastoral ambiance of the 23rd Psalm.  The initial verse is intoned by the tenor soloist.  This intonation is heard several times during the unfolding of the Psalm.   The occurance of the word, "water," in the text, evokes special effects from the boys choir.  The final verse of the Psalm offers a brief quote from the spiritual, Steal Away.  The second part of the Cantata revels in the exultation of the text.  The recurrence of rhythmic figures that vary in duration and density is a characteristic aspect of this section.  A single boy chants, "Selah," to bring his work to a tranquil conclusion.