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Composition Spotlight: Riders on the Earth

COMPOSITION SPOTLIGHT ~ by Jack Senzig
 
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
 
Riders On The Earth by Lana Mountford  SATB, Cello and Piano
(click here for PDF and here for AUDIO
 
Level: Advanced Middle School or Higher
Uses: General Concert Use
Program Themes: The Earth, Perspectives, Space Exploration
This Piece Would Program Well With: Pandora’s Dream by Philippe Rey, hear it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAqf0Dxi7k0 
 
This is a must-do piece.  As a conductor I am constantly doing a cost/benefit calculation in my head.  Whether I consider this repertoire for a middle school choir or college choir that equation is very much in favor of Riders on the Earth.   It would take little rehearsal time for an experienced choir yet they would still get a lot out of singing it.  A young choir would spend a semester on it and still come out ahead. 
 
The text was written during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.  While orbiting the moon, the astronauts read the Genesis creation story and beamed back pictures of the Earth rising over the moon.    The next day, Christmas Day 1968, Archibald Macleish published an essay in the New York Times "Reflections: Riders on Earth Together, Brothers in Eternal Cold,"  Lana Mountford chose text from that essay. 
 
When I first listened to this piece I immediately thought of a high definition picture of the Earth NASA has just released.
 
This piece is available from the composer at lanamountford(at)comcast.net