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Composition Spotlight: I Bend the Knee of My Heart

            Composition Spotlight ~ by Jack Senzig
 
Welcome to a new weekly feature we have prepared for you. It is our goal to provide conductors and ensembles with gems of the repertoire that are difficult to find anywhere but on ChoralNet.   Each week we will review one piece that is displayed in the ChoralNet Community Composition Showcase   Please visit and bookmark the Showcase  and peruse the many wonderful works awaiting your attention.  This is the Composers of Choral Music Community’s window to the best works of our member composers.  We hope each piece will start off your week with a few minutes of valuable entertainment and useful information.
 
I Bend the Knee of My Heart by David Avshalomov for SATB divisi, a cappella
 
Level: Most appropriate for advanced high school or community chorus and college choir
 
Uses: General concert use, high school spring semester and the Lenten season
 
This piece would program well with:  Edgar Bainton’s "And I Saw a New Heaven" available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus.
 
David Avshalomov’s "I Bend the Knee of My Heart" is certainly a gem.  It’s many facets of character and texture shine like a diamond in a jewelry store display case.  I will describe each sparkle as you read the score and listen to the work.  Right click or control click to open each in a new window.
 
mm 1-15
The piece opens with a pedal tone in the bass followed by a beautifully harmonized flowing melody in divisi parts above.  The first section ends just 15 measures in, bursting with splinters of many facetted light caused by the juxtaposition of D# in the tenor and D in the soprano on the word “array.”
 
mm 15-22
The B section is the first of two fugal presentations and makes the changing melody shake on the words “quake in fear.”  This short section contrasts the first with shorter moving rhythms and ends with growing dynamics on the repeated words “your power.” 
 
mm 22-46
Next we move homophonically to a section reminiscent of the first. The rhythm and pitch of the words “and now” remind us of “O Lord” from the opening and foreshadow their return a few measures later. 
 
mm 47- 69
This begins the second fugue that carries us near the final measures with increasing tempo and pitch concluding the section in an unfinished cadence with sopranos descending from A to Ab. 
 
mm 70 – end
The repeated “amen” brings peace and closure to the work. 
 
"I Bend the Knee of My Heart" is not only beautiful but filled with great teaching material.  David Avshalomov's piece is available from his website, and is listed in the Composition Showcase.
 
on September 10, 2012 9:52am
Very interesting writing--lots of contrast, and pretty challenging, but lots of pedagogical potential.
 
I'd like to personally applaud the low basses for doing their best to produce the low Bb at the end! It *should* have been a low C, but during the course of the performance, the choir dropped a whole step. I'd strongly recommend to any conductor programming this piece to record rehearsals and nip that tendency in the bud early on (find the problematic pitch points and rehearse those until there's no tendency to flat), because, speaking as a bass-baritone who is usually assigned to the lowest part, turning a low C into a Bb is just not fair to the basses!