Sir Brother Sun

Award-winning composer David L. Brunner has captured the essence of Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun in this lyrical octavo for treble voices.  Commissioned by Tim Sharp and the Miami Children's Chorus, this ecological anthem heralds the natural wonders of the universe -- Mother Earth, Brother Wind, Sister Moon, and Brothers Fire and Sun -- and wells to a triumphant acclamation of praise for the divine Creator of all things.

Although each stanza is through-composed, unifying elements are easily recognizable in melodies and rhythms from stanza to stanza.  The vocal melodies are defined by ascending and descending perfect fourths and fifths and recall shades of Aaron Copland's wide-open prairies.  The nobly disjunct melodies are punctuated by opening triplet figures that interject a further sense of dignity at the beginning of each stanza.  Carefully crafted modulations, lyrical piano interludes, expanding melodic ranges, and increased rhythmic vitality add to the growing intensity throughout the composition.

This piece was originally composed for treble voices and orchestra, and, in opening notes, the composer strongly encourages performance with the original forces though he acknowledges the effectiveness of the piano reduction that is found in this edition)the full score and parts are available from the publisher).  The two part treble voices frequently divide into three voices.  Both voice parts are independent, and homophonic textures are judiciously interspersed with call and response winging.  Within the homophonic textures, Brunner has used harmonic dissonances to evocatively reflect the nature of the text.

Appropriate for intermediate and advanced treble choirs, Sir Brother Sun offers a beautiful and fitting musical complement to the beauty of Assisi's poetry.

                                                                                             Natasia Sexton Cain, The Choral Journal

Winter Changes

Setting an exquisite text written by fifth-grader Emily Forsythe, David Brunner has created a stunning unison piece for intermediate-level treble choir and piano.  Beginning with a brief piano introduction, this through-composed piece features a flowing melodic line, changing meters, and copious dynamic and expressive markings.  With strict attention to musical detail, a sensitive performance will paint a portrait of winter beauty in the mind of the listener.

The piano part, sparse and mildly dissonant, is most supportive of the voices.  Some wide melodic leaps will give singers good intervallic practice.  The full gamut of the scale from c1 to e2 is incorporated throughout the piece, and the few appearances of f2 and g2 are well prepared.

                                                                                                  Jed David Watson, The Choral Journal

Three Sonnets of John Donne

("Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God", "A Hymn to God the Father", and "At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners")

These pieces, part of Doreen Rao's Conductor's Choice series, go far in achieving a goal of that series:  "education through artistry".  The seventeenth-century metaphysical poetry of John Donne evokes a sensitive musical response from David Brunner, who states that the three settings should be "performed together without pause."

The first selection begins with a chant-like opening given to baritone solo and divided basses in canon.  The other parts also divide briefly throughout this piece.  The central portion of the work is built on sequential repetition of five-note melodic cells, creating a haunting build to a climax in which the bass voice emerges with a powerful melody.  A choir with good control of intonation and vibrato would serve this music well.  The baritone solo part is not difficult but requires a solid f1.

"A Hymn to God the Father" uses the chanted phrase "God my Father" in varying tempos and repetitions to create a pedal-point or drone under a simple, flowing chant line.  The soft dynamics and low tessituras (tenors and sopranos will need reinforcement from lower parts) create a mood of prayerful mystery.  This piece would be most effective in a cathedral acoustic.

At approximately five and one-half minutes, the third setting is the longest and most challenging of the set.  The descriptive poetry of the last judgment summons a musical response that begins with voices imitating trumpet calls.  Each part is required to negotiate a quick, octave leap on the word "blow".  The modal writing and effective use of divided voices combine to create colorful chords in many passages.  The melodic and harmonic use of major and minor seconds instills a tension throughout the work that is not resolved until the final "amen" chord.  The only problematic range is that of the bass part, which calls for some Ds and Es as well as a final C.  These could be sung an octave higher and should not detract from the use of this fine work by college ensembles or competent church choirs.

                                                                                                         David Shaler, The Choral Journal

Yo le Canto todo el Dia

This piece, written by Florida composer David Brunner for the thirtieth anniversary of the Miami Choral "Society, is an energetic, rhythmic, and infectious likeness to the music of Venezuela.  Much information is provided on the cover, and the pronunciation and translation of the six short lines are included.  They are repeated many times in the three-minute setting, along with a syncopated refrain on a neutral syllable.

Much of the piece's energy is provided in the rhythmically challenging piano accompaniment.  Handclaps are added sparingly, but effectively, throughout.  The two vocal lines, both in mid-range, are a little dissonant, more sustained, and independent of the accompaniment.  The vocal parts perform complex rhythmic patterns in tandem.

Both the conductor and the accompanist should be well-prepared before rehearsing the piece; it would be an excellent choice for a festival.

                                                                                                        Doris Sjolund, The Choral Journal