AU’s Centennial celebration came to a close, and the Chorale premiered a special song to end the festivities appropriately.
“Walking to the Sun” is a piece composed by Dominick DiOrio of the IU Jacobs School of Music. It was commissioned by Dr. Dale Bengtson, dean emeritus of the AU School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and is based on a poem written by Wendell Berry.
Berry is a Kentucky native who pens novels, essays and poems. Over forty books of his work have been published. Dr. Merle Strege recommended this poem for use in creating the piece. It was introduced in 2005 in a collection titled “Given.”
“Berry’s writing is driven by a clear moral voice,” Strege says. “[This poem] links past blessings with the present and future.”
Strege said that when Dean of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance Dr. Jeffrey Wright and Dr. Richard Sowers invited suggestions for texts to use in creating the choral work, it was quickly agreed upon that Berry’s poem was ideal for commemorating this milestone in AU’s history.
“I’m fairly confident that Berry didn’t write this poem for a university’s centennial, but it certainly fits the occasion,” Strege says.
This is demonstrated particularly with his use of the word “blessing,” Strege explains.
“Blessings come from beyond us and add to our lives. To appreciate this is to understand that we live by the gifts of others,” he says.
Berry’s work was integral in creating a musical piece that effectively sparks “reflection on the human and material blessings that have come to AU over a century and will help us step into a future we cannot yet see,” says Strege.
The piece was composed for performance by a choir, clarinet, viola, crotales and piano. It was dedicated to both the Chorale and Dr. Sowers of our School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
Chorale initially performed the piece at Park Place Church of God on October 13th, and again in York Performance Hall on Oct. 26. They will take the piece on tour in Chicago in January, and across the world in countries including Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark on their Nordic tour next year.
Chorale member Julianne Boyd’s favorite element of “Walking to the Sun” is “the symbolism in both the text and the music.”
She cites the lyrics “but looking back, the very light that blinded us shows us the way we came.”
“We cannot control everything that will happen in the future,” Boyd explains, “but we can see the many blessings God has given us already and we must trust Him and His word.”