Creation Extended Program Notes

Extended Program Notes

for SSA Choir, Tape, Video, Percussion, and Electronic Keyboard

by the
Millikin University Women’s Choir

Conductor, Mike Engelhardt


On October 31, 2008, when choral director Michael Engelhardt and I sat down discussing the possibility of a large scale multimedia choral work based on the Creation, little did I know that the ideas formulating in my mind at the time foreshadowed the coming year. Reading the texts in Genesis, Revelation,  and Psalm 139, I began seeing parallels to creation and procreation – life being formed in a dark place, the importance of water, a baby’s first breath and the breath of life, even the apocalyptic end of Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden with our own destruction of the planet. Images began dancing in my head, music began to play, and I knew I was ready to write “Creation”.

In February 2009 I found out that I was expecting my first child. By that time, much of the music had been sketched out, as well as images for the piece. Fighting nausea and all the wonderful bodily changes accompanying a trying first trimester, I found myself practically bedridden, writing a few short phrases here and there in between bouts of sickness. Somehow I still wrote the work.

On October 31, 2009, exactly a year after the idea of Creation was born, I gave birth to my first child, Eva Rose Young. Named “Eva” (translated “Eve”, or “First Woman”), she transformed my life and gave new meaning to “Creation”. Little Eva makes her musical debut throughout the oratorio as sampled sounds hidden within the electronic subtext.

The music of “Creation” is derived from three major influences in my life: traditional church choral music, electroacoustic music, and Afro-Cuban music. Weaving the three together into a cohesive work took much planning. Musically, the work moves from the impersonal and electronic, starting in Movement 1 with a single sine wave slightly manipulated and culminating with a full human drumming ensemble in Movement IV. The Final Chorus represents humanity’s ultimate fall and destruction – of self, of nature, of spirituality – and calls for the return of the Creator now forgotten.

Wenye Masikio na Wasikie

“Those that have ears, Let them Hear”
The angelic host, simultaneously warning and preparing the listeners for the upcoming spectacle of Creation. The angels, God’s first creatures, are surrounded in darkness for God has not yet created the Light.

The choir plays the part of the angelic host, warning the listeners to heed the messages intertwined within the upcoming work. The angels are the first beings and observers of the creation of humans. They serve as both heralds and soldiers.

Movement I
Formado en un Lugar Secreto

“Formed in a secret place”
The text for Movement I parallels the forming of life according to the words of Psalm 139 with the creation of the earth. Life out of darkness, the formless becoming formed – the creation of the world.

“Creation” parallels the creation of the world with the creation of the human being  from conception to birth. I juxtaposed imagery of the unfertilized egg, for instance, with the biblical description of the earth “formless and void”.  Other parallels shall follow – the embryo with the seed, a baby emerging from the waters to childbirth, and the earth’s barrenness with the impending destruction created by the human’s misdeeds.

Movement II

“The darkness is as light to you.”
Futuristic visual exploration of the miraculous joining of two (God/human, man/woman) to create life/ light, the sun/ Son. Heavenly bodies collide.
A love song.

This movement is both a proclamation of love for my husband as well as a proclamation about the coming Son.

Movement III
Las Aguas

“The waters.”
Water within and without teeming with creatures – birds of the air, fish of the sea. All joining in a joyous dance of freedom and peace.

Movement IV
Uzima wa Milele

“The Breath of Life”
Holy breath giving life to all earthly creatures – plant, animal, human. The Garden of Eden alive with exhilaration and hope.

Final Chorus
Bwana Asifiwe

“Come, Lord Jesus”
An apocalyptic view of the earth, now barren and dry. Spiritual beings trapped in a hell of their own making cry out to the Creator long forgotten, hoping for a return to the perfect ancient world.

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  1. Janaye says:

    Thee’rs nothing like the relief of finding what you’re looking for.

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