Concert Programs

USC Thornton Chamber Singers & USC Thornton Concert Choir Concert Program

October 21, 2022
8:00 p.m.

The USC Thornton Chamber Singers and the USC Thornton Concert Choir present an evening of choral music that explores the complexity of human emotions.

The Concert Choir has prepared a program that opens with the drama of rage, human loss and sadness featuring masterworks like Sydney Guillaume’s Anmwé and Zoltan Kodaly’s Jesus and the Traders. It progresses to happier emotions such as joy, love and praise with works by Conrad Susa and John Clements, as well as Dr. Diane White’s exuberant Clap Praise.

The Chamber Singers’ program features works by Lili Boulanger, Stephen Paulus and Pultizer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. Also featured are Topsy-Turvy by USC Thornton choral & sacred music faculty member Nick Strimple and There Will Be Rest by composition faculty member Frank Ticheli. The concert concludes with Chichester Psalms, an extended choral composition in three movements by celebrated composer & conductor Leonard Bernstein.



Mack Wilberg
(b. 1955)

“Winds of May” from Six Joyce Songs, Volume 2

Conrad Susa

Jézus És A Kufárok (Jesus and The Traders)

Zoltán Kodály


Sydney Guillaume
(b. 1982)

“To All, To Each” from Carols of Death

William Schuman

Lux Aeterna

Fernando Moruja

Flower of Beauty

John Clements

Clap Praise

Diane White

Hymne au Soleil

Lili Boulanger

There Will Be Rest

Frank Ticheli
(b. 1958)

The Silver Swan

Orlando Gibbons


Nick Strimple
(b. 1946)

“Hymn to the Eternal Flame” from To Be Certain of the Dawn

Stephen Paulus

And the Swallow

Caroline Shaw
(b. 1982)

Hear My Prayer, O Lord

Sven-David Sandström

Chichester Psalms

Leonard Bernstein

Program Notes

Concert Choir

Mack Wilberg

Mack J. Wilberg (b. 1955) is an American composer, arranger, conductor, and choral clinician. Wilberg attended Brigham Young University and earned a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and composition in 1979. He then completed graduate study in choral music at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, earning both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. Wilberg was a professor of music at Brigham Young University from 1984 to 1999, where he directed the Men’s Chorus and Concert Choir. In 2006, he was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association. Since 2008, he has served as the music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

Shenandoah is an American folk song about the Shenandoah River running through West Virginia and Virginia. The four-hands piano accompaniment captures the flowing waters and the bends of the river with its undulating harmonic rhythm and running notes. Through theme variations, the harmonies in the chorus and piano build into more complex chords with each strophic verse, climaxing into a strong outpouring of longing. The lyrics speak of being bound away, reminiscing about home, which lies across the wide river.

Conrad Susa
“Winds of May” from Six Joyce Songs, Volume 2

Conrad Stephen Susa (1935-2013) was an American pianist, composer, and educator. He studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Juilliard School. Susa was the pianist for the Pittsburgh Symphony, taught music at Lincoln Center in New York City, was the resident composer for the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, and joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1988, where he remained as a professor of composition until his death. Susa composed choral and instrumental works, as well as the operas Transformations and Dangerous Liaisons.

Largely in compound mixed meter, “Winds of May” portrays the scenery of the high seas. The interaction between the strong winds and ocean waves are symbolized by the chorus and piano, respectively. The text is a poem written by James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (1882-1941), an Irish novelist, poet, and literary critic. The poem speaks of a person observing the winds dancing over the “furrows” of water, stirring up images of an unhappy lover.

Zoltán Kodály
Jézus És A Kufárok (Jesus and The Traders)

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) was an outstanding composer, ethnomusicologist, music pedagogue, linguist, and representative of Hungarian culture. His internationally acknowledged concept of music education is the basis for general music teaching in Hungary and plays an important role in the training of professional musicians. Zoltán Kodály played a prominent role in Hungarian public life, holding several public posts and serving as a member or head of numerous boards and committees. He was also acquainted with many influential public figures: musicians, artists, scholars, and politicians. (

Jézus És A Kufárok was written in 1934. This a cappella work incorporates Hungarian folk idioms, such as the eighth and quarter note pair on the downbeat and the parlando style of singing, which is similar to a recitative. Kodály uses word painting to illustrate the text, such as the stampede of the animals, clinking of coins, and the crack of Jesus’s whip. Archaic harmonies and imitative entries from the beginning of the piece eventually bloom into a fugue. The music and text depict the wrath of Jesus chasing the traders out of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, cleansing disrespectful activities from the sacred grounds: “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

Sydney Guillaume

Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sydney Guillaume (b. 1982) currently resides in Portland, Oregon, working as a composer, conductor, and clinician. His recent activities as conductor include the 2022 Georgia All-State Senior Treble Choir, the 2019 Florida All-State Middle School Treble Chorus, the 34th annual Idaho State University Choral Invitational Festival, the 2018 Maine All-State High School Mixed Chorus, an all-Guillaume concert at the Lincoln Center in NYC, and concerts with the Imbroglio Sextet at Carnegie Hall and at the 2018 ISME World Conference in Azerbaijan. Guillaume also writes film music, with original film and documentary scores for the Los Angeles based company Loyola Productions to his credit. (

The Creole language text of Anmwé is written by Gabriel T. Guillaume. The piece is inspired by a gut-wrenching documentary which included a mother’s tear-jerking reaction to the sudden loss of her three sons, who were blatantly killed during the ongoing conflict between the university students of Port-au-Prince and the government of Haiti in 2005. Sydney Guillaume said that their mother, having lost her sanity, spoke of her grief, mentioning how she wished they had also killed her so that she would not have to endure that excruciating pain. The music is in a fast-paced tempo emulating a tribal chant, with the lower voices speaking or singing repetitive words, creating melodic ostinatos that drive the rhythmic impetus. Anmwé intends to convey the deepest pain, emotional torment, and heartache.

William Schuman
“To All, To Each” from Carols Of Death

William Howard Schuman (1910-1992) was an American composer and arts administrator who studied music at the Malkin Conservatory. In 1935, he received a B.S. in music education from Teachers College at Columbia University. From 1935 to 1945, he taught composition at Sarah Lawrence College. In 1945, he became president of the Juilliard School, founding the Juilliard String Quartet. From 1961 to 1969, he was the president of Lincoln Center. Schuman composed symphonies, concertos, ballets, operas, choral music, and film music. Schuman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1943, the Edward MacDowell Medal in 1971, the special Pulitzer Prize in 1985, and the National Medal of Arts in 1987.

“To All, To Each” is the third and final song in the cycle Carols of Death. Schuman plays with harmonic tension and resolution through the use of suspensions and stepwise melodic shifts in parallel thirds with a pedal to juxtapose the discomfort of the living world with the comfort and release of death. The slow tempo, linear phrases, and harmonic shifts of the music evoke the feeling of balancing on the border between the living and the dead. The text, by Walt Whitman (1819-1892), speaks of death as inevitable, reflected in the predictability of the strophic form.

Fernando Moruja
Lux Aeterna

Fernando Moruja (1960-2004), born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was an orchestral and choral conductor and an award-winning composer. He studied in the Manuel de Falla Conservatory in Buenos Aires and his career revolved primarily around choral music. He was a member of two of the most prestigious ensembles in the country: Estudio Coral de Buenos Aires and Grupo Vocal de Difusión. He founded and conducted a number of ensembles, such as Coral de la Rábida. The majority of his choral works are sacred, and his style is varied and eclectic. He died prematurely in a tragic accident on the last day of 2004, run down by a car while returning from Christmas shopping on his bicycle. (From a note written by Gabriel Blasberg)

The text is taken from the first stanza of Lux Aeterna of the Requiem Mass: “Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine.” In English, it means “May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord.” Moruja wrote the piece in ABA form, with the A section representing the eternal light through a rhythmic ostinato on the title text with a comforting harmonic pendulum, all in a homophonic texture with relatively little melodic movement in the inner voices against pedal tones. This gives the listener a sense of serenity and healing. The B section then requests that the eternal light shine upon them.

John Clements
Flower of Beauty

Little is known of John Clements (1900-1986). In 1960, the English composer created a delicate musical setting of Sydney Bell’s (n.d) poem Flower of Beauty. The work juxtaposes elements of Victorian and Edwardian choral part songs with stylistic features of Edward Elgar (1857-1934) and Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Clements embraces the simplicity of the melody and sets it in a homophonic texture with simple harmony in strophic form, allowing the sensitivity of the text to radiate throughout. The text speaks of a young man reflecting on his spouse, comparing her favorably to many aspects of nature.

Diane White
Clap Praise

Dr. Diane White-Clayton (n.d) is an American composer, soprano, pianist, choral conductor, workshop clinician, author, minister, and speaker. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in Music Composition from the University of California, Santa Barbara and received her Bachelor of Arts in Music with honors from Washington University. As an Ambassador of Goodwill, she studied on a Rotary Scholarship in Paris, France, studying piano at the Ecole Normale de Musique. Her choral compositions have been performed across the globe and she travels extensively as a performer and conductor of workshops throughout the United States and abroad. White is on staff as a choral conductor at the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, and is the Artistic Director of the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers. She also works as a vocal clinician for Disney Performing Arts, and is a member of the faculty at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. (

The first half of Clap Praise is written in the gospel style with text taken from Psalm 47. This highly syncopated and energetic section, supported by the piano, features a call and response between a soloist and the chorus in mixed meter. In the second half, the song builds in complexity into extended harmonies. Just as the text commands, “Clap your hands, O ye people!,” the chorus climaxes into a juxtaposition of polyrhythmic clapping and singing.

Chamber Singers

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)
Hymne au Soleil

Sister of famed 20th-century educator and pedagogue Nadia Boulanger, French composer Lili Boulanger was poised for a great career in composition, showing an aptitude for music from the age of 2. Unfortunately, she was plagued with frail health for nearly her entire life after falling ill with bronchial pneumonia in 1895, and she needed near-constant medical care before the chronic condition of intestinal tuberculosis led to her death in 1918. In 1913, she made headlines as the first woman to win the Prix de Rome for music with the cantata Faust et Hélène. (Grove Music Online)

Boulanger left behind a handful of choral and vocal works, one of which is the evocative, gripping Hymne au Soleil. The piece is a fine example of her powerful impressionistic writing, and the colorful imagery of the poetry is depicted in the music. Boulanger composed two versions of Hymne au Soleil with notably different concluding measures, one in E major and another in E minor. After her death, both versions appeared in print in 1919. The Chamber Singers’ performance features the version ending in E major, based on the 1919 Ricordi & Co., Inc. edition.

Frank Ticheli (b. 1958)
There Will Be Rest

American composer and educator Frank Ticheli is a professor of composition at the USC Thornton School of Music. He attended Southern Methodist University for his undergraduate studies, later earning two graduate composition degrees from the University of Michigan, where his teachers included William Albright, Leslie Bassett, George Wilson, and William Bolcom. From 1991-1998 he was composer-in-residence for the Pacific Symphony, under the musical direction of Carl St Clair. An award-winning composer, his honors include the Charles Ives Scholarship, the Arts and Letters Award, and the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. At USC, he has received the Virginia Ramo Award for Professional Achievement, and in 2011, he endowed the “Frank Ticheli Composition Scholarship” to be awarded annually to a composition student. (Grove Music Online)

Ticheli’s expressive, colorful compositional style lends itself beautifully to the choral medium, though he is also celebrated for his orchestral and wind band works and arrangements. There Will Be Rest is a setting of a poem penned in 1933 by American poet Sara Teasdale. The text illustrates the assurance of reaching a state of peaceful rest. This 8-part a cappella piece opens with a dissonant layering of each of the voices. The work is rife with harmonic suspensions which build tension throughout before ultimately breaking into transcendent, soaring release.

Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
The Silver Swan

English composer and keyboard player Orlando Gibbons was a leading musical figure in early 17th-century England. A chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, his brother Edward was master of the choristers. From 1603 until his death in 1625, he was a musician in the Chapel Royal. He was especially skilled as an organist, and is on record as one of the two organists of the Chapel Royal. He received music degrees from Cambridge and Oxford. His church music compositions are traditionally his best known works, and he is viewed as a master of polyphony. However, as a complement to the seriousness and dexterity of his contrapuntal sacred works such as his Madrigals and Mottets and full anthems, his verse anthems and witty consort music demonstrate his vitality and humor. (Grove Music Online)

The Silver Swan comes from Gibbons’ collection of secular vocal music found in the 1612 collection Madrigals and Mottets. This composition reflects Gibbon’s affinity with the tradition of English partsong and the composer’s interest in the compositional style of William Byrd. The piece is Gibbons’ best-known composition today, based on a bit of poetry, perhaps written by the composer, expressing the apocryphal swan song myth: that swans are silent in life but finally sing only just before death. Gibbons uses the text to make a condemnation aimed at the talkative folly of men of the day. (Grove Music Online)

Nick Strimple (b.1946)

Nick Strimple is an American composer, conductor, scholar, educator, and author whose interests include twentieth century music, Jewish music, the music of Dvořák and other Czech composers, the aesthetics of sacred music and virtually all aspects of choral music. He is Professor of Practice in the Department of Choral and Sacred Music at the USC Thornton School of Music. Born in Amarillo, Texas, Strimple holds degrees from Baylor University and USC, and is the author of two critically acclaimed books, Choral Music in the Twentieth Century (2002) and Choral Music in the Nineteenth Century (2008). A prolific conductor, he has conducted some of the world’s most prominent ensembles, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, and the Prague Radio Choir. A prolific composer, he has written both concert and liturgical works as well as film and television scores.

Strimple often receives commission requests from professional ensembles such as The Golden Bridge, an ensemble conducted by Suzi Digby. Topsy-Turvy is one such commission, and was written in 2021 as a companion piece to Gibbons’ madrigal The Silver Swan.

(Note from the composer:) The primary thematic material was created from the inversion of the opening nine soprano pitches of Gibbons’ work. I was particularly interested by Gibbons’ text (possibly written by him), which is now perceived to be a comment on the political leaders of his day. In searching for a text that would appropriately compliment–and perhaps illuminate–Gibbons’, I was fortunate to discover the 17th century Dutch poet and composer Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687). Daghwerck (“The Day’s Work”) is a very long, unfinished poem written for Huygens’ wife, Suzanna (known within the family as Stella), who apparently also contributed verses to it. She died just after their third child was born, which prompted Huygens to add verses about her death. In the lines I chose to set, Huygens addresses his dead wife directly, warning that words, like the upside down (“topsy-turvy”) images seen through a camera obscura, are not always what they seem. Lies can appear true. At the pivotal text “not the real thing, but reflection” I quote the opening music of The Silver Swan directly–in all parts–for two measures, followed by those pitches and rhythms in exact retrograde.

Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)
“Hymn to the Eternal Flame” from To Be Certain of the Dawn

American composer Stephen Paulus studied composition with Paul Fetler and Dominick Argento at the University of Minnesota, where he earned three degrees. He served as composer-in-residence of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1983 and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from 1988. Paulus earned many awards, including multiple Guggenheim Fellowships and a Kennedy Center Friedheim prize (1988). Paulus’s works show Romantic influences and a tonal melodic style. His output includes orchestral and choral works, chamber and solo instrumental music, solo vocal pieces, and four operas. (Grove Music Online)

“Hymn to the Eternal Flame” is excerpted from the larger oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn (2005), which was commissioned by rector Michael O’Connell of the Basilica of Saint Mary to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the death camps and the fortieth anniversary of the Vatican document Nostra Aetate (In Our Time) which helped renew the dialogue between Jews and Christians. The oratorio calls for SATB soloists, Cantor, and orchestra in addition to the mixed chorus and children’s choir featured in “Hymn to the Eternal Flame”. The work was premiered in 2005 at the Basilica of Saint Mary with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Basilica Cathedral Choir, and the Basilica Children’s Choir. In this excerpt, we hear a homophonic setting of a text written by Michael Dennis Browne. The first verse is sung by the mixed chorus, verse two is led by the children’s chorus, and the third verse includes the tutti consort, with a solo soprano descant. The piece ends softly and poignantly, with the simple melody, hummed by the children’s choir, as the final sound heard. (From

Caroline Shaw (b. 1982)
And the Swallow

Caroline Shaw is an American musician who crosses genres and mediums, working as a producer, composer, violinist, and vocalist. She is the recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, several Grammy awards, an honorary doctorate from Yale, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. She has worked with a range of artists including Rosalía, Renée Fleming, Yo Yo Ma, and Kanye West, and she has contributed music to films and tv series including Bombshell, Yellowjackets, Maid, Dark, and Beyonce’s Homecoming. (From

The text for Shaw’s And the Swallow comes from Psalm 84. The work was first performed on November 11, 2017 by the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and has since been performed in an instrumental version as well. Shaw’s composition was written as the composer reflected on the Syrian refugee crisis. The text “how beloved is your dwelling place” from Psalm 84 struck her. Shaw’s setting offers comfort and peace, as passages of wandering, anxiety, and yearning seamlessly move to sections of repose. At the end of the piece, the choir imitates the sounds of soothing rainfall.

Sven-David Sandström (1942-2019)
Hear My Prayer, O Lord

Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström is a leading figure in the contemporary musical scene of Sweden. His catalog of works features over 600 compositions ranging from operas and oratorios to choral and chamber music. In the 1980s, his music took a turn towards more simplicity and more emotion alike. He had an interest in linking himself to the old masters, especially Bach. He composed a number of motets for choir after Baroque models Henry Purcell and Dietrich Buxtehude, as well as reinterpretations of Bach’s motets. (From

Starting with Henry Purcell’s famous setting, Hear My Prayer, O Lord gradually grows to a climax of an almost painful means of expression. The text of the piece is from Psalm 102:1 (Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee) and is notable for both its immediacy and straightforward emotional nature. For 8-part a cappella mixed choir, Sandström’s 1986 reinterpretation of the Purcell choral anthem calls for extended techniques to heighten the emotional intensity like notated groans and trill-like whimpers. Entirely polyphonic, each individual voice part cries and shouts in their own due course, searching for assurance and harmonic resolution. Sandström requires each voice to explore the extremes of their ranges, building tension and passion with extraordinary levels both of dynamics and dissonance, until, after an extended period of diminuendo and ritardando, the voices finally settle on a C major chord.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Chichester Psalms

Leonard Bernstein is known for his accomplishments as a conductor and composer of musical theater and concerts works, and as a musical educator through television programs. He has long been celebrated for his remarkably successful tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (PO) and for writing the score to the Broadway musical West Side Story. Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, his family’s faith played a major role in his personal development throughout his life. He first took an interest in music when an aunt brought a piano to the Bernstein home around the age of 10. He studied music at Harvard, then went on to study conducting and piano at the Curtis Institute. After graduation from Curtis in 1941, Bernstein was hired as an assistant conductor of the New York PO in 1943, a position which changed his life. Within 18 months of his hiring, Bernstein’s fame was cemented both as a conductor and composer. He became the youngest music director in the history of the New York PO, and served until 1969, when he was named Laureate Conductor for Life. (Grove Music Online)

Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms has proven to be one of his most popular concert works. Composed in 1965, Chichester Psalms was the product of a year-long sabbatical. Based on a song Bernstein had written for West Side Story but ultimately removed from the musical, this choral work with orchestra was commissioned by Chichester Cathedral in West Sussex, UK. Each of the work’s three movements includes a pair of Psalm texts, presented in Hebrew. The first movement is a celebration of God, and opens with a rousing choral-orchestral invocation of Psalm 57: “Awake, psaltery and harp! I will arouse the dawn!” Much of the work is presented in 7/4 meter, and the dancelike feel is demonstrative of the joy conveyed in Psalm 100, “make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.” Movement 2 is a study in contrast between peace and violence. It opens with a boy soprano singing a placid, soothing rendition of Psalm 23 while accompanied by harp. The treble voices of the choir join him in the serene melodic setting before being interrupted by the tenors and basses who enter “allegro feroce.” The raucous interjection is Psalm 2, “Why do the nations rage?” The treble voices return to complete Psalm 23, blissfully unaware of the turbulent intrusion upon their tranquility. The third and final movement returns to peace, and opens with a reference to the opening 5-note motif of the piece, now in a symphonic instrumental prelude. The Psalms here are 131 (“Lord Lord, my heart is not haughty” and 133 (“Behold how good”). In the final section, Psalm 133 is presented a cappella as the choir closes the work with a prayer for peace.

About the Artists

Cristian Grases

Cristian Grases joined the USC Thornton faculty in the Fall 2010 semester and is currently an associate professor of choral music and conductor of the USC Thornton Concert Choir. Born in Venezuela, he earned degrees from the Simón Bolívar University (MM) in Caracas, Venezuela, and the University of Miami (DMA). He has previously served as interim director of choral activities at Central Washington University; assistant professor in choral music at California State University, Los Angeles; and national coordinator of choirs for EL SISTEMA under Maestro José Antonio Abreu. He also served as conductor for the Women’s Chamber Ensemble of the University of Miami, was the assistant conductor of the Miami Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Eduardo Marturet, and the conductor of the Young Musician’s Orchestra. Additionally, he is an award-winning conductor and composer, and has been commissioned to write for several prestigious organizations such as the Piedmont Children’s Chorus and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale. Numerous ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale have performed his works.

Dr. Grases has participated in numerous festivals, workshops, and events as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and conducting pedagogue in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has also presented sessions in the World Choral Symposia in Denmark, Argentina, and South Korea. Additionally, he has presented at several ACDA regional and national conventions and conducted the National Latin American Honor Choir at the Salt Lake City ACDA National Convention.
Dr. Grases was elected into the Board of Directors of the International Federation for Choral Music in 2008 and is currently a member of the Executive Board as a Vice-President representing the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, Grases was the chair of the Ethnic Music Repertoire and Resources Committee for the Western Division of the American Choral Directors Association (2009-2018), he is part of the editorial board of the International Choral Bulletin (2005-present), was the editor of the “Children’s and Youth” Column for the bulletin (2005-2017), was the founding Artistic Director for the Esperanza Azteca Los Angeles Orchestra and Amazonia Ensemble, and serves in numerous international artistic committees including Songbridge and the World Youth Choir. He also serves as the Artistic Director of Meritage Vocal Arts Ensemble. In 2013 Dr. Grases started a new Choral Series entitled The Choral Music of Latin America and the Caribbean published by Gentry Publications as an editorial outlet for Latin American choral repertoire.

Tram Sparks

Tram Sparks is an Associate Professor of Practice at the USC Thornton School of Music. Prior to her work in Los Angeles, Sparks was an Associate Professor and Associate Director of Choral Activities at Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance, where she taught from 1999 to 2009. Dr. Sparks taught graduate and undergraduate courses in choral literature, conducting and aural theory and conducted the Concert Choir, University Chorale, Women’s Chorus and University Singers over the course of her ten years at Temple University. In addition to her appointment at Temple, she has served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Dordt College (Sioux Center, Iowa) and Director of the Choral Program at St. Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

A native of Vietnam and a child refugee of the Vietnam War, Sparks’s earliest musical training was in Okinawa, Japan, and subsequently studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Pre-College Division, where her studies included lessons in piano, solfege, eurythmics and choral music (singing in a children’s choir). Sparks earned her Bachelor’s of Music in Piano Performance and a Master’s of Music in Choral Conducting from Temple University. Her piano training with the late Harvey Wedeen and David L. Stone follows in the pedagogical lineages of Adele Marcus, Isabelle Vengerova, Josef Lhevinne and Nicholas Slonimsky.

Sparks holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting degree from Yale University. While at Yale, she completed certificate program studies in Music, Worship and the Arts at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and thereafter served as music director in various churches and synagogues in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Sparks’s research interests center around two areas and the subtle interplay between them – conducting technique rooted in modern dance theory and movement analysis and a contextual understanding of cheironomy, its forms and functions in contemporaneous early communities of worship.

Text & Translations


Oh Shenando’, I long to hear/see you.
‘Way, you rollin’ river.
O Shenando’, I long to hear/see you.
‘Way, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri.

‘Tis sev’n long years since last I saw you,
‘Way, you rollin’ river.
‘Tis sev’n long years since last I saw you,
‘Way, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri.

Winds of May

Winds of May, that dance on the sea.
Dancing a ring, around in glee from furrow to furrow.
While overhead, the foam flies up to be garlanded,
in silvery arches spanning the air.
Saw you my true love, anywhere?

Well-a-day! For the winds of May!
Love is unhappy, when love is away!

Jézus És A Kufárok (Jesus and The Traders)

Elközelge húsvet és felméne Jézus
Jeruzálembe a templomba
És ott találá ökrök, juhok, galambok árusait,
És ott terpeszkedtek a pénzváltók.
És kötélböl ostort fonván kihajtá öket a templomból,
Mind az ökröket, mind a juhokat, mind kihajtá
Kavarog a barom, szalad a sok juh,
Szalad a sok árus, kavarog a barom.
És a pénzváltók pénzét szerteszórá,
És asztalaikat feldönté.
És a pénzváltók sok pénzét szerteszórá,
És kötélböl ostort fonván kihajtá öket a templomból,
És a galambok árusinak mondá:
Vigyétek el ezeket innét!
Ne tegyétek atyám házát kereskedés házává!
Amazoknak mondá:
Írva vagyon: az én házam imádságnak háza
Minden népek közt.
Ti pedig mivé tettétek?
Rablók barlangjává!
Hallván ezt a föpapok és irástudók
El akarák öt veszteni, el akarák öt veszteni,
El akarák öt veszteni, mert féltek vala töle,
Mivelhogy az egész nép úgy hallgatá Öt.

Come Easter and Jesus will ascend
To Jerusalem to the temple
And there he would find sellers of oxen, sheep, and doves,
And there were the money changers.
And weaving a whip from a rope he drove them out of the temple,
He drove both the oxen and the sheep
The cattle stir, the many sheep run,
The many sellers are running, the bastard is stirring.
And scatter the changers’ money,
And he overturned their tables.
And scattered the money of the money-changers,
And weaving a whip from a rope he drove them out of the temple,
And he said to the sellers of doves:
Get these out of here!
Do not make my father’s house a house of trade!
He said to them:
It is written: my house is a house of prayer
Among all peoples.
And what did you do?
A den of robbers!
Hearing this, the high priests and scribes
They want to lose five, they want to lose five,
They wanted to lose him because they were afraid of him,
Because all the people listened to him like that.


Si nou kapab, di mwen
Ki doulè ki pi gran
Pase doulè manman

Kè mwen ap dechire
Zantray mwen ap rache
Kilès kape di mwen
Pouki yo touye pitit mwen

Ede’m kriye, ede’m rele
Doulè yon moun se doulè tout moun
Bay kou bliye, pote mak sonje
Yon jou pou chasè, yon jou pou jibie

Mwen sèmante twa fwa
Sa pap pase konsa
M’ap kriye, m’ap rele
M’ap fè latè tranble
Pou jistis ak lapè
Ka blayi sou la tè

Dlo nan je mwen seche
Tout zo nan kòm kraze
Lespri’m fin deraye
M’ape rele anmwe

Lannuit kou lajounen
Mechan yo dechennen
Malveyan pran lari
Inosan ap peri

Anmwe, sekou souple
Lanmou sou la graba
Lemond’nan tèt anba

Men tout rèl gen sekou
Na jwenn lavi yon jou
Lè sa tè-a va bèl
Bèl tankou lakansièl

Tell me, tell me
what pain is greater
than a mother’s sorrow.

My heart is torn,
my soul is aching.
Who will tell me why,
why they killed my child.

Hear me cry, hear my scream.
We all share this pain.
The giver of the blow forgets, the bearer of the scar remembers.
A day for the hunter, a day for the hunted.

I swear! Oh, I swear
I’ll turn this curse around.
Through my screams, through my tears
and through my defiant strength,
I’ll see that justice and peace
spread throughout our world.

I have tears no more.
I know strength no more.
I can think no more.
I can only speak my pain.

Night and day,
the ruthless are unchained,
haunting our lives,
snatching our youth.

Help, help! Oh, please help!
Love is held hostage
in a world of violence.

We must not despair,
for we’ll know life again,
in a new day full of hope,
filled with our children.

To All, To Each

Come, lovely and soothing death.
Undulate round the world,
serenely arriving.
In the day, in the night,
to all, to each,
sooner or later delicate death.

Lux Aeterna

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine

May the eternal light shine upon them, o Lord

Flower of Beauty
Text by Sydney Bell

She is my slender small love,
my flow’r of beauty fair.
From the whiteness of her little feet
to the shinning of her hair.
More fair she is than April rain
on daffodils or tree:
She is my slender small love,
my flower of beauty, she.

I know she walks in the evening
down by the river side,
And the grasses lean to kiss her robes
who soon will be my bride:
More dear to me her little head
than earth or sky or sea!
She is my slender small love,
my flow’r of beauty, she.

Clap Praise
Psalm 47

Clap your hands, O ye people.
Shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
For the Lord most high is to be feared,
A great King over all the earth.
He subdued the peoples under us
And nations under our feet.

God has gone up with a shout.
The Lord ascends with the sound of a trumpet.
God ascends amidst shouts of joy.
Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.
Shout unto God with loud songs of joy!
Sing praises to our King! Sing praises!

God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.
He is the King of all the earth, Sing praises with a psalm.
Clap your hands! Clap your hands,
Everybody, shout unto God with the voice of triumph!

Hymne au Soleil
Poem by Casimer Delavigne

Du soleil qui renait benissons la puissance.
Avec tout l’univers celebrons son retour.
Couronne de splendeur, il se leve, il s’elance.
Le reveil de la terre est un hymne d’amour.
Sept coursiers qu’en partant le Dieu contient a peine,
Enflamment l’horizon de leur brulante haleine.
O soleil fecond, tu parais!
Avec ses champs en fleurs, ses monts, ses bois epais,
La vaste mer de tes feux embrasee, L’univers plus jeune et plus frais,
Des vapeurs de matin sont brillants de rosee.

Let us bless the power of the reborn sun.
With all the universe let us celebrate its return.
Crowned with splendor, it rises, it soars.
The waking of the earth is a hymn of love.
Seven rushing steeds that the God scarcely holds back
Ignite the horizon with their scorching breath.
Oh, vivid sun, you appear!
With its fields in bloom, its mountains, its thick forests,
The vast sea set ablaze by your fires, the universe, younger and fresher,
With morning vapors are glistening with dew.

There Will Be Rest
Poem by Sara Teasdale

There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.
I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me
Stars I shall find.

The Silver Swan

The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approached, unlocked her silent throat;
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:
“Farewell, all joys; Oh death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.”


These are things reflected to you,
Secrets told within our fortress,
Mirrors of the world without:
As the camera obscura.
Topsy-turvy, through its lenses
Draws the sunlit world inside.
Topsy-turvy, Stella, mark this:
Not the real thing, but reflection,
Just as lies may work upon Truth,
Truth, that’s tender and newborn,
Transparent as the noon-day sun.

Hymn to the Eternal Flame
Text by Michael Dennis Browne

Every face is in you, every voice,
Every sorrow in you.
Every pity, every love,
Every memory, woven into fire.
Every breath is in you, every cry,
Every longing in you.
Every singing, every hope,
Every healing, woven into fire.
Every heart is in you,
Every tongue, every trembling in you,
Every blessing, every soul,
Every shining, woven into fire.

Hear My Prayer, O Lord
(Psalm 102:1)

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee.

And the Swallow
(Psalm 84)

how beloved is your dwelling place,
o Lord of hosts
my soul yearns, faints
my heart and my flesh cry out
the sparrow finds a house
and the swallow her nest
where she may raise her young
they pass through the valley of bakka
they make it a place of springs
the autumn rains also cover it with pools

Chichester Psalms

I.        Psalm 108 verse 2

Urah, hanevel, v’chinor!
A’irah shachar!

Awake, psaltery and harp:
I will rouse the dawn!

Psalm 100

Hari’u l’Adonai kol ha’arets.
Iv’du et Adonai b’simcha.
Bo’u l’fanav bir’nanah.
D’u ki Adonai Hu Elohim.
Hu asanu, v’lo anachnu.
Amo v’tson mar’ito.
Bo’u sh’arav b’todah,
Chatseirotav bit’hilah,
Hodu lo, bar’chu sh’mo.
Ki tov Adonai, l’olam chas’do,
V’ad dor vador emunato.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before His presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord, He is God.
It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endureth to all generations.

II.      Psalm 23:1-4

Adonai ro’i, lo echsar.
Bin’ot deshe yarbitseini,
Al mei m’nuchot y’nahaleini,
Naf’shi y’shovev,
Yan’cheini v’ma’aglei tsedek,
L’ma’an sh’mo.
Gam ki eilech
B’gei tsalmavet,
Lo ira ra,
Ki Atah imadi.
Shiv’t’cha umishan’techa
Hemah y’nachamuni.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
He leadeth me beside the still waters,
He restoreth my soul,
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness,
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk
Through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For Thou art with me.
Thy rod and Thy staff
They comfort me.

Psalm 2:1-4

Lamah rag’shu goyim
Ul’umim yeh’gu rik?
Yit’yats’vu malchei erets,
V’roznim nos’du yachad
Al Adonai v’al m’shicho.
N’natkah et mos’roteimo,
V’nashlichah mimenu avoteimo.
Yoshev bashamayim
Yis’chak, Adonai
Yil’ag lamo!

Why do the nations rage,
And the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His anointed.
Saying, let us break their bonds asunder,
And cast away their cords from us.
He that sitteth in the heavens
Shall laugh, and the Lord
Shall have them in derision!

Psalm 23:5-6

Ta’aroch l’fanai shulchan
Neged tsor’rai
Dishanta vashemen roshi
Cosi r’vayah.
Ach tov vachesed
Yird’funi kol y’mei chayai,
V’shav’ti b’veit Adonai
L’orech yamim.

Thou preparest a table before me
In the presence of mine enemies,
Thou anointest my head with oil,
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy
Shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

III.     Psalm 131

Adonai, Adonai
Lo gavah libi,
V’lo ramu einai,
V’lo hilachti
Big’dolot uv’niflaot
Im lo shiviti
Naf’shi k’gamul alei imo,
Kagamul alai naf’shi.
Yachel Yis’rael el Adonai
Me’atah v’ad olam.

Lord, Lord,
My heart is not haughty,
Nor mine eyes lofty,
Neither do I exercise myself
In great matters or in things
Too wonderful for me.
Surely I have calmed
And quieted myself,
As a child that is weaned of his mother,
My soul is even as a weaned child.
Let Israel hope in the Lord
From henceforth and forever.

Psalm 133:1

Hineh mah tov,
Umah naim,
Shevet achim
Gam yachad.

Behold how good,
And how pleasant it is,
For brethren to dwell
Together in unity.