Those Who Build... was commissioned in 2007 by the College of Saint Rose to commemmorate the opening of the Massry Center for the Arts on the campus of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. The work, scored for soprano soloist, chorus, and wind ensemble. The cantata as a genre extends back to the early Baroque period and has its roots in both sacred and secular traditions. Those Who Build... builds upon that tradition and merges sacred and secular themes.
Those Who Build... is in four movements. The first movement is a festive overture, a "curtain riser," for the wind ensemble alone. A rapid scalar ascent opens the work is intended to evoke the image of curtain rising above a new stage. The overture is filled with brilliant flourishes and antiphonal effects. The use of antiphonal trumpets, placed on either side of the stage, celebrates the "space" of the hall, and is intended to draw the audience's attention to hall's dimensions and acoustical attributes.
Movement two: Invocation: Chorale and Aria, uses traditional vocal genres to offer sentiments of admiration and gratitude for our presence at this auspicious occasion. The music, while stately and lyrical remains emotionally reserved, reflecting the sense of awe one might experience upon entering a marvelous new building for the first time.
In direct contrast to movement two, The third movement, "Sing Out!" is music of unrestrained joy. This is created by the use of bold rhythms and harmonies, drammatic scalar passages, and a brght tessatura range for the singers. It is in this movement where the composer explores the full sonic potential of the hall.
The fourth movement is a tribute to those who built this hall, and by extension, those who build generally. It begins with an instrumental meditation upon building, as expressed by slowly rising chords in the winds. The main body of the movement is in two halves: the first presents a lyrical tribute to the hall's patrons--those who build through vision and generosity. The text for this section takes the form as a parable, reflecting upon the spiritual nature of giving and of the act of building itself. The theme is then transformed into music with greater rhythmic precision as the chorus announces a tribute to the builders and architects. Bold, angular music ensues until it is interrupted by the reprise of a three-note theme (something of a "prayer motive") first heard in the movement's introduction. The music returns to a more meditative style, first with a choral "a cappella" passage and then in a concluding aria for the soprano. This aria serves as a bridge in two ways: First, with regard to the music's own internal "architecture," the aria leads directly to the celebratory "Hallelujah" section which concludes the work; secondly, the text that the soprano sings signals a "handoff" between those who built this hall and those who will carry its glorious mission into the future.
Movement II (text by Bruce Roter)
Chorus: Singing breathes to life this honored hall.
Silence yielding to the sound of new harmonies.
Bless this new moment, this new space,
Fortune leading us to this occasion, this new day
Music to convey our grace.
Thankful to reach this great moment we offer this song.
Lending our art to this hall, to this place where we belong.
Soprano: Sympathetic theater, resonant hall with music quivers with each gentle tone.
Glorious arena, your vibrant walls, reflecting mirrors which follow along.
Sing out with pleasure and with delight.
Bring to all who gather here a place to feel.
Chorus: Gathered here we offer praise…
Soprano: for this new opportunity
Chorus: Casting song toward future days…
Soprano: Our dreams fulfilled upon this noble stage.
Vast, expansive building,
Beckoning to fill your void with music,
Grateful, we sing out!
Movement III (text by Daniel Nester and Bruce Roter)
Sing out freeing our heartsong's deepest joy!
Sing out filling this day with celebration (sing out with joy)
Sing releasing this new day skyward
Sing inaugural songs hum chant shout
Bring about a house's new day, we pray, we rise, we sing out!
We join crescendoes grabbing each heart, arrival, weaving notes into dreams,
Rest, then anxious hearing a voice inside us, as if voiced anew
Sing restless voices a new, set down words driving music ascending,
Bringing joy never-ending to this day
Sending music to chairs bearing names.
Gifts of patrons we proudly acclaim
Sing out, sing to this day
Hail this wondrous display
Rise on this grand stage!
Rise on this grand stage and play
Hail this wondrous display
Bring forth with song a new day
Come breath new life oh honored hall!
Silence yielding to the sound of new harmony
Take this great moment, embraced in this song!
Joined in recital, new hearing place.
Sing to newly laid new bricks and to morter
Towards foundations upon which we offer
Sing a heavenly overture toward the sky!
Sing crescendos grabbing each heart, arrival, weaving notes into themes,
And sing, to all who gather to dream
Sing out for all who gather here
Sing high, sing inward
Sing to our premiere.
Sing out past this day beyond these walls!
Movement IV (text by Bruce Roter)
Soprano: In a sweet-scented field lay a seed newly sown, so fragile and fine.
Prayed the seed to the earth, I need drink from your well And cling to the ground.
Said the earth to its mate: You shall have all you de-sire, to nourish your dreams and sustain you with all you require.
Chorus: And this union was blessed by the warmth of the sun, By the dew of the morn,
From a seed once small rose a mighty tree,
Stretching its roots through the grass ,
with limbs embracing the sky,
And the tree bore its fruit for all to enjoy
And the fruit gave its seeds to the earth with joy.
Soprano (over the chorus): Praised be all who offer kindness to their neighbors, with compassion for their needs.
Honor to those, who give of themselves, who help their community flourish providing hope for dreams to grow.
Delight in performing acts of kindness.
Blessed are those who give with joy.
Chorus: In a fragrant field, lay a seed newly sown,
and a seed newly sown will not thrive on its own.
In a garden of giving abundance awaits for us all.
To the builders: sculptors of metal and glass!
To the architects: shapers of land, framers of space!
Those who build--inventors of the present, crafters of tomorrow. Those who build--foundation and skylight to our community have you been!
Those who build with covered head, on bended knee:
Set brick upon brick, building walls to contain, shaping archways to guide.
Our stage is now set, sealed with devotion by others hands.
And by hard work that others willed.
Yet, those who build, build not for today, but
Build for tomorrow for still.
Soprano: May those who built the toward present
And those that build toward the future of this place,
See your work merge, finding
Seamless union of accomplishment, of promise.
Rejoice in what is done, rejoice in what is yet to become. music finds its home. Silence
Yields to new harmonies!