Blue Psalm is a setting of a poem written by Canadian poet, Dennis Lee that is about 7-8 minutes long. The text is a modern-day slant on the biblical Psalms of David, even making reference to the unstrung harp that is now hanging silently. The viewpoint in Lee’s poem is of someone looking back on their life and finding their values and ideals have been compromised too much in a lifetime of consumption. This present-day angst is given a musical voice in the blues inspired harmonies that slowly unfold beneath the melody. While originally written for low voice and piano, the piano part was subsequently rescored for an ensemble of four or more cellos.
This composition was written in 1999 and is dedicated to baritone, Bruce Kelly. For many years, Bruce taught voice students at Queen’s University in the office directly beside John Burge’s office. The combination of Bruce’s penetrating speaking voice, John’s constant piano playing, and lack of sound proofing in the wall made for close colleagues. When Bruce moved to a different office, this piece was written as a kind of parting gift and to let Bruce know just how much the composer enjoyed hearing his resonant vocal projection, jokes and pep-talks to his students over the years.
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These include: Ireland’s Most Beautiful Ancient Airs, Enchanted World, Studies in Poetry Vols. 2, 3 & 5, 24 Preludes for Solo Piano, Searching the Painted Sky Opera, Sixty Fingers and Rhythm Practice.
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