Wednesday, June 23, 2010

'Choral Reflection on Amazing Grace' by Roger Ames

One of my very favorite choral compositions ever. A serious choral work, dedicated to the children of the victims of 9/11. I try to program it once every other year.

The composer, Roger Ames, had been attempting to write a setting of the mass in the months prior to Sept. 11, but only came up with a sketch of the Kyrie (Lord Have Mercy) movement. He put away the sketch, but after the attacks of 9/11 found himself wanting to express his feelings through music. After a while, he realized this kyrie was set to the same harmonic progression as Amazing Grace (NEW BRITAIN).

I don't know why this hasn't been recorded commercially yet, but here is a YouTube video of James Jordan and the Westminster Choir College Schola Cantorum performing the work. The audio isn't amazing, and the you can just ignore the horrible video, but it still captures the emotion of the work

I was introduced to the piece by James Jordan at a summer choral workshop in 2004. He told us the story of someone who was across the street from the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. He said that the man was watching in horror as people fell from the towers, when he claims to have seen two of them reach out to each other as they fell.

Whether this story is true or not, the fact remains that in times of great trial, we reach out to one another for comfort, and I believe that is where we find God.

Choral Reflection on Amazing Grace is published by GIA Publishing, Inc.
James Jordan's interpretation is available on The Voices of Anam Cara's CD Innisfree.

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