"Lights of the Western Sky" is a compilation of 3 celestial American folk songs collected by Ruth Crawford Seeger, commissioned by Casper Children's Chorale to celebrate the 2017 total solar eclipse visible in Casper, Wyoming in honor of Mick McMurray. The pieces are connected not only by the folk style and the star subject, but also by tracing the course of a day, and by focusing on the connection of the outer world to the inner soul.
I. Bright Morning Stars-- An additive processional on the ultimate theme of children singing. Though the traditional verses state that the fathers are "down in the valley a-prayin''' and the mothers have "gone to heaven a-shoutin'" (or vice versa), the lyrics have been freely adapted in the folk tradition of "floating verses" (adapting lyrics to personal experience) to describe the children's experience. The opening percussion motif is intended to evoke Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."
II. Oh, Watch the Stars-- "Oh, Watch the Stars" and "Great Big Stars," combined in unique ways. The two songs used, "Oh, Watch the Stars" and "Great Big Stars," are distinct in their own right. They have been fused together in this movement, borrowing the text from one and using the tune from the other, and modifying one to partner with the other when presented simultaneously. A fusion of two styles, this movement opens solemnly and culminates in a "hoedown showdown."
Read about "Lights of the Western Sky" (SSA) in the Casper (WY) Star Tribune, May 8, 2017.
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