Noteworthy: An SSAA Adaptation as Beautiful as the Original Voicing

SATB pieces do not always make for equally successful SSAA versions, notes Portland Symphonic Girlchoir founding artistic and executive director Roberta Q. Jackson, but she has found a gem in this David C. Dickau adaptation for women's voices.

i carry your heart with me
by David C. Dickau
Recommended by Roberta Q. Jackson

From Roberta Q. Jackson

When I met composer Dr. David C. Dickau, adjudicating a festival, I gave him several recordings in order to introduce the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir to him. A few days later, he emailed me to ask if PSG would be interested in premiering the SSAA version of his very successful SATB composition, i carry your heart with me.  I told him that we would be thrilled to do so, and we programmed the work for our 2012 holiday concert.

I highly recommend this piece for its pure beauty, sensitive setting of the text, and equally successful SSAA and SATB versions. Although setting an SATB piece in SSAA voicing is not always effective, the close four-part harmony resulting from this adaptation makes it an absolute winner!

The composer exhibits his sense of drama in the way he sets this evocative text. At the climax, “And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart,” he restrains the intensity and tempo with each repetition of the phrase, creating a stunning effect. 

This work requires sopranos who can shimmer in the upper ranges, four equally strong parts, and an excellent, expressive pianist. From the first rehearsal our singers loved the piece, its resonance for them deepened because many had studied the poem in their English classes. Our audience was also captivated by its compelling text and overall beauty.

The evocative setting of the text and gorgeous writing for the voice make i carry your heart with me a must for advanced high school and college women’s choirs. 

Listen to i carry your heart here:

Click here for a preview score PDF.

Date of premiere: December 22, 2012
Commissioner: composer
First performer: Portland Symphonic Girlchoir
Author/source of text: e. e. cummings
Length: 4 minutes
Parts: SSAA, piano
Publisher: Walton
Recording information: Portland Symphonic Girlchoir’s Premier Choir; Roberta Q. Jackson, conductor; December 22, 2012; Zion Lutheran Church

Roberta Jackson has led Portland Symphonic Girlchoir to its current status as one of the country’s leading children/youth choirs. She is recognized as a leading choral educator, both for her work spanning 30 years of teaching in public schools in Minnesota and Oregon and her work with the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir since its founding in 1989. Mrs. Jackson’s vision, imagination, and commitment to excellence are reflected in Girlchoir’s extraordinary journey over 22 years.
Roberta Q. Jackson

Having received her Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado, Mrs. Jackson has also been awarded the distinction of Artist Teacher and Master Teacher Certifications from the Association for Choral Music Education. In demand as an adjudicator, clinician, and conductor, Mrs. Jackson has been a featured presenter at the International Society for Music Education (Innsbruck, Austria), makes frequent appearances as a presenter at National and Northwest Division Conventions of the American Choral Directors Assn (ACDA). She is listed in three Marquis’ publications, including “Who’s Who in America”.

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