Choir Students Collaborate to Create Original Piece of Music

Last September, Bosque School’s upper school choirs had the exciting opportunity to collaborate with composer, Nicholas Prior, and poet, April Brannon, on an original piece of music inspired by the students’ own emotions. At the time, choir director, Joanna Hart, was searching for the best way to engage her students during remote learning, and she knew she wanted to do something special to help encourage their passion for music during a time when coming together in creative collaboration was particularly difficult. “I had long-wanted to commission a friend of mine to write a piece for our choirs, and so, in early September, the classes met on Zoom with Nicholas Prior, composer. He talked with them about the creative process, themes in music that create an emotion, and he played examples from movies,” said Ms. Hart.

After working virtually with Mr. Prior, the students were asked to submit music and texts that evoked strong emotions for them personally. Ms. Hart said, “We let them choose freely and then created a Spotify playlist that included everything from classical music and rap to Christmas music and pop. Then the second assignment was to submit text that elicited deep emotion for them.” This text could be a poem, lyrics from a song, a passage from a book or even something the student wrote. The texts were kept anonymous and compiled into a slide show that the students watched and read together silently.  This exercise led the students to imagine what someone was feeling on the day they submitted their response, and they found that they were deeply moved by their classmates’ feelings. 

Ms. Hart then gave the compilation of the written texts to Albuquerque native and poet, April Brannon who read through it and used the students’ selections as inspiration to write the poem Glide. Mr. Prior then used Glide as the lyrics to an original musical piece that the Bosque School choir would eventually be the first to perform. “We got the music just after spring break and honestly struggled to get it to come together. In our very last class together, we planned to record the piece no matter what happened. I felt we needed to have closure to the project. We rehearsed it for about 15 to 20 minutes...and then we recorded it. It was only one take, but it was one of those lovely moments where we all felt it, and it was good,” said Ms. Hart, “There are spots I would like to fix—as is always the case—but I hope you enjoy listening to what I think turned out to be a beautiful piece.”

Listen to “Glide” here and read the lyrics below.

The poets like to tell us where hope might be found
Perching on a tree branch 1
And flitting all around

Or at the kitchen table, 2
swallowed beneath bites of stew
hope is always there, rising, 3
rising like the moon

But when you start to feel it wither
Beneath the glaring sun 4
Look deep, deep inside
and use hope to glide

Glide, glide,
Use hope to glide.

The waters will be uncharted
Use passion as a map
Be guided by conviction
And use hope to glide

Glide, glide,
Look deep inside
And use hope to glide.

Inspired by the poets listed below and the following quotes chosen by Bosque School students:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

1 Emily Dickinson’s Hope is a thing with Feathers
2 Joy Harjo’s Perhaps the World Ends Here
3 Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise
4 Langston Hughes’ Harlem