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Silver Songs

for SATB a cappella. Anthony Ritchie Opus 153

There is a mixture of the quirky and expressive in these 3 settings, written to celebrate the silver anniversary of Viva Voce.

The songs by Forster provide sharp contrasts of mood. Silverfish is humourous, depicting the evil exploits of an insect in melodramatic fashion. Click this link to the RNZ recording of Silverfish, sung by Viva Voce.
Orapiu Night was written in memory of singer, Dinah Wright, a close friend of the poet's who died of cancer, and includes a haunting refrain from a New Zealand bird, the Ruru (or morepork).
De le Mare's poem, Silver, is a magical evocation of moonlight, and the music is underpinned by a gentle walking motion in the basses and tenors, and a reference to English folk music style.

Silver Songs were commissioned by Viva Voce, conductor John Rosser, for their 25th anniversary concert (their silver anniversary) on April 25, 2010. Two of the songs use poems written especially for the concert by New Zealand writer Michelanne Forster: Silverfish and Orapiu Night. The other song is a setting of Walter de la Mare's poem Silver.

Silverfish - Michelanne Forster
Hi Ho, silverfish!
Crouched in a corner
Compulsively eating my carpets and curtains
Chewing then spewing my silver fern T-shirt!
How dare you!
Lepisma Saccharina- you little Latin lover
Relentlessly eating the months and the years
Munching then crunching my silver-screen dreams
Holes, more holes!
Are you never satisfied?
Crawl away! Far away!
Go and swallow someone else's life!

Orapiu Night - Michelanne Forster
One Orapiu night
As we walked towards the
A moorpark fixed
his eyes on me

Ruru! Ruru!
He cried

On the dark ribbon road
was a halo of light
A single street lamp
glowed softly bright

Ruru! Ruru!
He cried

Moths stupidly fluttered
Wings whirling white
The owl swooped and
consumed them
Sucked in mid-flight

It's the way of the world
He cried

Ruru Ruru

We walked in to the water
Cupped our hands in the
It's clear, like salt
You said to me

Who will remember
Now that you're gone?
Your silver voice stilled
Silenced mid-song.

Ruru Ruru.

Silver - Walter de la Mare
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

The first performance was by Viva Voce, Auckland Town Hall, 23/4/2010. Broadcast on Radio NZ Concert 2010.

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