The Catholic University of America

Andrew Earle Simpson

A Crown of Stars (2006): Wedding Oratorio

Instrumentation Sop and tnr solo, SATB chorus, SSA treble chorus, chamber ensemble (fl/pc, ob, cl, bn/cbn, tpt, pno, hp, 1 perc, vn, va, vc, cb)
Duration 45'
Movements 11
Premiere 6/10/06, Bethesda, MD
Performers Cantate Chamber Singers (Bridgid Eversole, sop, Alexander Kugler, tnr)
Commissioned by Cantate Chamber Singers
Recording TBA
Publication Composer
Performance History
  • 6/10/06, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, MD
mp3 samples

TBA

pdf score samples

Click on the links below to access the chamber score

Part I

Movement 1: Opening Chorus
Movement 2: Recitative, Aria (tenor), and Scena
Movement 3: Aria (soprano): The Face of all the World has Changed
Movement 4-5: Chorus
Movement 6: O Blind God Love (Chorus)
Movement 7: Will There be any Stars in my Crown? (treble chorus)

Part II

Movement 8: Wedding Ritual (soprano, tenor soloists, Chorus)

Part III

Movement 9: Raise up the Roof (Chorus)
Movement 10: O My Bliss (soprano, tenor soloists, Chorus)
Movement 11: Finale (Chorus)

Click on the link below to open the complete piano-vocal score (as of May 29, 2006):

A Crown of Stars (piano-vocal score)

Program Notes

A Crown of Stars, commissioned by the Cantate Chamber Singers, is my second work as the chorus' Composer-in-Residence. This new 45-minute work is a celebration of love and of marriage from a universal perspective: I have selected texts from throughout history and around the world. Ancient Greek and Roman lyrics, medieval French and 19th-century English and American poetry and song texts, a beautiful contemporary poem by Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, an Italian Renaissance Carnival song by Lorenzo de' Medici, and wedding texts from various religious traditions - Christian, Jewish, Hindu - are woven into a rich textual tapestry.

A Crown of Stars is a varied carnival of musical styles, as well, drawing on elements of jazz, opera, Middle Eastern music and American folk song to relate the oratorio's narrative.

The oratorio is in three parts: part I, "Courtship," details the meeting of the tenor and soprano soloist - the "bride" and "groom" - at Carnival (in the sense both of Italian Carnival and New Orleans Mardi Gras). The opening chorus of the oratorio is, in fact, a free setting of "If Ever I Cease to Love," a 19th-century song which is now the "official song" of New Orleans' annual celebration. The Thomas Pyle treble chorus sings "Will There be any Stars in my Crown?," an American revival hymn text set to an original melody, in the style of an Appalachian folk song, in the first part.

Part II, "Wedding-Ritual: Crowning of the Bride and Groom," combines texts on love and marriage from a wide variety of cultural and religious traditions - the soprano and tenor, as "bride" and "groom," participate in this wedding ritual. The title of part II refers to the practice of crowning the married couple, an important part of many religious wedding traditions.

Part III, "Wedding-Night and Shivaree," depicts both the happiness of the newly-married couple, and a noisy serenade (shivaree) by the couples' friends, which boisterously interrupts their serenity. A beautiful ancient Roman love elegy by the poet Propertius, set as a duet for soprano and tenor, is rudely interrupted by the chorus singing a wedding-night song (epithalamium) by the ancient Greek poet Sappho.