#53: Friday, August 2, 2019
“Gamaya” by Paul John Rudoi
Text from Vedic Sanskrit
SA round, opt. percussion
Scene: It is mid-summer, and you’re looking for repertoire for the coming fall. Trying to cover all the educational and performative aspects we do when programming, while also putting together an interesting and engaging concert. Holiday, Spring, Festival, and other concerts are done. But what about that first concert of the year?
The first concert is always tricky—picking repertoire when you aren’t yet sure of the ability levels or numbers in your groups, when you haven’t even met them all yet and don’t know how fast they’ll learn new material. For me, I know that rounds, canons, and similar build-upon-themselves songs are my go-to for the start of the year rehearsals.
Rounds and the like get everyone singing immediately – even if I haven’t been able to audition all my students yet, or haven’t finalized the ensemble rosters yet, or have people moving in and out during drop/add week. I can get everyone involved from the very first moment of the very first rehearsal, no matter their previous choir experience or sight-reading ability.
However, trying to find rounds that can move from rehearsal space to concert stage can be frustrating. Not all rounds have a good flow as a full performance piece. Many don’t sound “finished” at the end…they just fade out until the last group is done. They can make for great growth in rehearsal, but then you sometimes lose that momentum when you transition to concert music.
Gamaya, by Paul John Rudoi, was a welcome find this summer when working on my 2019-20 repertoire. The main material is 15 measures, so I can absolutely teach it during my first rehearsal. Rhythms are likely readable, even for beginners. Then it can evolve and expand in subsequent rehearsals, until we are working on the piece as written.
There are layers of nuance in Rudoi’s song too, with dynamics and shaping to add in as the material becomes comfortable. I love the tension and release throughout the piece, even in the beginning round. You don’t always find this in traditional good-for-warmups rounds.
The range is limited and the melody tuneful, without feeling simple. There is a lyricism that even the newest of beginners can grab on to, and yet there is also a depth and complexity that can spark interest in the seasoned veteran.
Additionally, the text is a great start-of-year sentiment about peace and truth:
asato mā sad gamaya,– Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, I.iii.28
tamaso mā jyotir gamaya,
mṛtyor mā’mṛtaṃ gamaya,
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ.
From untruth lead me to Truth.
From darkness lead me to Light.
From death lead me to Immortality.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
On Graphite Publishing’s site, there are numerous tools to help in furthering your ensemble’s growth: translations, a note from the composer, and a video with performance notes. IPA is given on the score.
I am thankful to have found this wonderful round, and look forward to using it in both rehearsal and performance first thing this fall term.
As always, if you have thoughts or questions about women’s/treble repertoire, please reach out to me at the contact info below. Best wishes for start of the year everyone!
|Composer:||Rudoi, Paul John|
|Date of Composition:||2017|
|Text Source:||Vedic texts|
|Subject(s), Genre:||Peace, truth, journey|
|Voicing Details:||Unison and SA, but there are notes in the score for some 3 part canon|
|Commissioning Ensemble:||Commissioned in collaboration with Graphite Publishing by the 2015-2016 Hopkins High School Choral Program, Philip Brown, conductor.|
|Further descriptions and details, including program notes, audio, perusal score, and purchasing: |
Until next time!
Dr. Shelbie Wahl-Fouts is associate professor of music, Director of Choral Activities, and music department chair at Hollins University, a women’s college in Roanoke, Virginia.