Winter Proverbs
Frances Farrell

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1. Prologue: The Pine in Winter

The pine stays green in winter; wisdom in hardship.


2. Winter’s Dance

They that sing in summer must dance in winter.


3. Cold Comfort

Those who don’t pick roses in the summer, won’t pick them in winter, either.


4. How Long the Winter

O wind, can spring be far?

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Oh, when the winds begin to sing,

The snow melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing.

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

When winter comes, can spring be far behind?




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The four pieces comprising this suite are linked thematically using texts from various proverbs about winter. Cited as a Chinese proverb, the lyrics to this first movement, "The pine stays green in winter; wisdom in hardship," speak to the steadfastness of winter, ice, and pine trees. These sentiments are underscored by the austere treatment of voices and rhythms, as though the voices themselves were frozen. The second movement is a playful realization of the word "dance" that is found in this English proverb: "They that sing in Summer, must dance in Winter."  The third movement is based on the proverb "Those who don't pick roses in the Summer, won't pick them in Winter, either." This tongue-in-cheek treatment of the lyrics asks choristers to confront the thorny issue of how to pronounce the word "either". The final movement comprises several proverbs: "Oh, wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? -Shelly (Ode to West Wind), "No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow" - Guinean proverb, "The snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing" -Irish proverb. This movement is punctuated by sweeping vocal lines meant to emulate the movement of the wind. The last few measures of this piece recall the opening idea of the first movement.