An Interview with

by Beverly Taylor

Stephen Paulus

Editor's Note: The following article is based on a phone interview -Ravel, Bartok, Britten, and Shostakovitch. A conducted by Beverly Taylor on September 10, 1996. watershed in his career was the 1979 premiere of his first , The Village Singer, at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. In our conversation I asked Stephen Paulus what interested It drew rave reviews and led to commissions from the him most about composing. He spoke of the importance of Aldeburgh Festival, Fromm Foundation, Greenwich Cho­ writing interesting and inspiring music, of moving people, of ral Society, Houston Sympho_ny, Minnesot<;t Orchestra, and allowing them to let go. others. With and others, he formed the Minnesota Composers Forum in 1973 (now the Ameri­ As a creator/organizer of sound [I am] trying to put together can Composers Forum) to enable composers to get a read­ something that people will find inspiring. They may be ing of their newest works. Through this organization he attracted to a variety of things: do they admire the craft? also learned about fundraising, grant-writing, and the busi­ think it's pretty? jarring? ness of music. Since 1990, he has served on the ASCAP Board of Directors. In addition, he wants the audience members to take some­ Paulus was composer-in-residence for the Minnesota Or­ thing away from the shared experience. He feels that if chestra (1983-87), under and Edo de Waart, people merely want to listen to music they can buy a CD, and the Atlanta Symphony (1988-92), under Yoel Levi. He but such an experience lacks commonality of feeling-it is has been a guest composer at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Santa Fe, private. Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, and Oregon Bach Festivals. He has A St. Paul native, Paulus started piano study at age ten received commissions from leading choruses such as the Dale and began writing at age twelve or thirteen ("cheap imita­ Warland Singers, Festival Singers, Choral Arts tions of piano studies"). He found he enjoyed it and thought Society of Philadelphia, Ensemble Singers of the Plymouth "he'd do better at it than building a garage." He became Music Series, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Santa Fe Desert serious about composition at approximately age twenty­ Chorale, Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, Paul Hill Cho­ three, after he finished his B.A. degree in piano and was rale, and the Atlanta Singers. working on a Masters degree. One of his teachers, Paul His have been performed by the Opera Theatre of St. Fetler, taught him to be his own toughest critic-that it was Louis, Washington Opera, Greater Miami Opera, Minnesota important to critique oneself and to constantly assess the Opera, and Fort Worth Opera. His most recent opera is the sounds one is creating. He liked the works of many different two-act The Woman at Otowi Crossing, premiered by the Opera Theater of St. Louis in June 1995. Beveryly Taylor is Director of Choral Activities at the University A selected list of Paulus's choral works on CD includes his of Wisconsin, Madison. Voices for chorus and orchestra, Echoes between the Silent Peaks with the Oregon Repertoty Singers (Koch International Clas-

MARCH 1997 PAGE 17 l i sics); Four Preludes on Playthings o/the Wind the Ilast year or two, it has intensified. For with the Singers (Aiperican him the combination of words and music Composers Forum Recordings); aP-d Jesu heightens the meaning of either the poem Carols with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale. or 'the music; it stretches beyond what He has recorded several Christm~ com­ pu~ely instrumental music can do. For positions and carol arrangements with the example, the composer may choose to , which appear on pla~e a new form on the poem through d'Note Recordings and the Augsbufg Pub- his or her musical form. I lishing House labels. : Xasked Paulus if he could characterize A Paulus Christmas carol wrirlren for his compositional style. He described his I the Minnesota Commissioning Club was mu~ic as "colorful, anchored in tonality premiered by King's College Choit, Cam­ butl not without dissonance, used some­ bridge, on its Christmas Eve radio I broad­ timbs in obvious, sometimes in more sub­ cast in 1996. Upcoming recordings include tly prepared ways." He places a priority his Meditations 0/ Ii Po by the Ne~ York on fhe rhythmic aspect of his music. He CQncert Singers. The Choral Arts ~ociety feelk that rhythm is the anchor, and that of Philadelphia will record Visio*", from it is vital to all composition. He said that Hildegard, a fifty-five-minute work ~or cho­ people feel at sea without rhythm and rus and ensemble. He also has beeh com- tha~ in many modern compositions the I missioned to write an opera for the ~uilliard element of rhythm is not as developed as, Opera Center, a church opera for the perhaps, it should be. He feels that the House of Hope Presbyterian Churcjh of St. keylto writing interesting music is to find Paul, and a work for the Chamber Music cOIJilbinations that are both "surprising Society ofLincoln Center. i and inevitable." He uses a wide palette of I asked Paulus what drew him to cho­ spedal effects. He prefers acoustic instru­ ral music? He replied that he has Ialways ments for accompaniment and reports been interested in choral sound, Ibut in that he has yet to attend a concert of

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PAGE 18 CHORAL JOURNAL Paulus Choral Works Legend CantiCltm novum (SATB, fl., ob., Four Preludes on Playthings of the 1 perc., harp) Wind (SATB) EA...... European American Music Corp. EA; Duration: 30:00 EA; Duration: 10:00 610/648-0506 Fax: 612/889-0242 God Be with Us (SATB, dmp., AMSI.. ... Art Masters Studios, Inc. Carol ofthe Hill (SATB, keyboard) 1 perc., piano) 612/378-0027 Fax: 612/729-4487 AMSI 31; Duration: 23:00 HMC..... Hinshaw Music Corp. EA; Duration: 7:00 9191933-1691 Fax: 919/967-3399 Carol ofthe Candle (SATB, keyboard) AFP...... Augsburg Fortress Publishers Hark! The HeraldAngeli Sing (arr.; SATB) 612/330-3300 Fax: 612/330-3455 SP: Duration: 3:00 EA; Duration: 3:00 SP ...... Stephen Paulus 612/644-6274 Fax: 612/647-6488 Cats, Friends and Lovers (SSA) Hallelu! (2-part, organ or piano) CF ...... Carl Fischer EA; Duration: 10:00 EA 511; Duration: 3:00 212/777-0900 Fax: 212/477/4129 "A Child My Choice" (SATB) Hear My WOrds (2-part, keyboard) Rental items may be ordered through the pub­ from So Hallou/d Is the Time HMC 201; Duration: 3:00 lisher. Works with an EA indication that do not EA 482; Duration: 4:00 have a publication number may be requested from How Far Is It to Bethlehem? (S,T soli, European American's Permissions Department. SATB, ob., harp) Christmas Eve Carol (SATB) FP 11-0598; Duration: 3:00 EA; Duration: 4:30 I Gave My Love a Cherry (arr.; SATB, Christ Our Passover (SATB, 2 tpt., S solo, harp) Alleluia! Christ Is Risen (SATB) 1m., trb., tuba, timp., organ) EA; Duration: 3:00 SP; Duration: 2:00 EA: Duration: 5:00 Impart (2-part, keyboard or guitar) AIIMy Heart This Night Rejoices Come Life, Shaker Life (arr.; SATB) SP; Duration: 3:00 (2-part, keyboard) .EA; Duration: 3:00 CF 7918; Duration: 3:00 In the Moon ofWintertime (SSA, harp) DingDong! Merriryon High (arr.; EA; Duration: 3:00 AnAmerican Medley (SATB, brass quintet) SATB, fl.) ... EA;Duration: 15:00 EA; Duration: 2:00· In Praise (SATB, handbells~ organ) EA; Duration: 5:00 The ,Angeli and the Shepherds (arr.; SATB) TheEartb Sings (3-part treble, JesI' Carols (SATB; harp) EA 610; Duration: 2:00 1 perc:; piano) . EA; Duration:. 1O:QO· EA 601; Duration: 10:00

AngekWeHaveHeard onHigh (arr.; Echoes between the Silent Peaks (SATB, Joy to tbeWorld (S.solo;SATB) .. SATB~ organ) . fl., ob., 1 perc;, harp? vln., vc;) EA; Duration: 1:00 ... EA; Dunition: 25:00 ':LatelyArlived From 1,0lJ.don" (SATB, piano) . . from Letters from tHe Tinles EA 467; Duradbn:5:00 BarbaraA!!e~:(arr;; SATB,guitat) .EA;l)urauon: 2:00 . .. . LetAll CWltion PraiSe (SATB, organ) EA;· Dillati()n: 4:00 .

MARCH 1997 PAGE 19 Paulus Choral Works

Madrigali di Michelangelo (SATB) Single Girl (arr.; SATB; harp) Wassail Song (arr.; SATB) EA; Dur~tion: 20.:0.0. EA; Duration: 3:0.0. EA 612; Duration: 2:0.0.

Marginalia (SATB, fl., 1 perc.) The Shantyman's Lift (SATB) The ~ter Is Wide (arr.; S, Bar. soli, EA; Duration: 10.:0.0. EA; Duration: 3:0.0. . SATB, harp) EA; Duration: Meditations ofLi Po (SATB) 3:0.0. EA 771; Duration: 14:0.0. Snow Had Fallen; Christ Was Born (SATB, keyboard) -we Give Thee But Thine Own Now Is the Gentle Season (SATB) AMSI 226; Duration: 3:0.0. (SAB, organ or piano) EA 524; Duration: 3:30. EA 522; Duration: 4:0.0. The Snow Lay on the Ground o Little Town ofBethlehem (arr.; (SATB, keyboard) We Three Kings ofOrient Are SATB, ob., harp) CF 7917; Duration: 3:0.0. (SATB, ob., harp) EA 578; Duration: 4:0.0. EA; Duration: 5:0.0. A Song in the Air (Unison, keyboard) 0, Come, All Ye Faithfit! (SATB) AMSI 272; Duration: 2:0.0. . Whalen's Fate (TTBB, guitar) EA; Duration: 3:0.0. EA; Duration: 3:0.0. Peace (SATB) Song ofJoy (SATB, organ) EA; Duration: 5:0.0. SP; Duration: 3:0.0. Winter Song(2-parr, piano) CF 7970.; Duration: 2:0.0. Personals (SATB, fl., 1 perc.) Spring Song (2~part, keyboard) EA; Duration: 5:0.0. CF 80.35; Duration: 3:0.0. Chorus and Pilgrim Jesus (men's and boys' voices, organ) Songs ofLi Po (SATB, 2 vin., vIa., cb.) Orchestra EA; Duration: 5:0.0. EA; Duration: 15:0.0. (available on rental)

Pium Pawn (arr.; SATB, harp) "This Is the Month" (SSA,organ) Canticles: Songs and Rituals for EA 550.; Duration: 3:0.0. from So Hallow'dB the Time .the Easter and the May (S, Mez. soli, EA48o.;Durauon: 1:30. 'narrator, SATB, 1111;2210.; tlmp.; "Run, Shepherds, Run' (SA.TB, organ) .: 1 perc.) from SiJ Hallow'd Is the Time M;· Duration: 35:0.0. EA481; Duration: l:Qo. ; qhristmas Tidings: Five Cai·ols· . I(SATB, strings) 1 perc., organ) ·EA; Duratiori: 21:0.0. Banish it from us, electronic music where some mechanical or a troubled arena," according to the problem did not occur. Root it out of our hearts. Ever, evermore, everlastingly, composer. The middle section is quieter To find texts for setting, Paulus reads and unaccompanied for the plea of "for­ widely and seeks recommendations from Ever, evermore, everlastingly, Amen. giveness," and the final section recalls the friends and colleagues. At the time of this music of the opening, slightly transformed interview, he had many books on hand, God be with us, On this Thy day, and with a more triumphant feeling. In including The Enlightened Heart by interpreting the piece, Paulus advises con­ Stephen Mitchell, as well as Sufi and Na­ God be with us, On this Thy night, ductors to emphasize the dramatic im­ tive American texts. The particular com­ port of the text and to allow the strong mission, acoustical setting, and size of the Amen. To us and with us, rhythms in the piano and percussion parts can influence his choice of text. In to move the drama forward. Experienced early March the Dale Warland Singers On this day, To us and with us, players are required, especially for the dif­ will premiere his Songs ofIi Po, part of a ficult piano part. Through his musical projected triology based on Chinese poems. On this night, God be with us. setting, Paulus hopes that the prayer will Paulus found the text for the ACDA serve as a "point of meditation and means commissioned work, God Be with Us, in Amen Amen. for some spiritual growth-both for the a collection of spiritual Gaelic poems, singers and audience members." Carmina GadelicalHopes and Incantations, Amen. gathered in Scotland in the mid-nine­ Amen. -C]- teenth century by Alexander Carmichael. He was particularly attracted to the text Paulus's eight-minute work is set for because of its directness and short phrases: SATB choir with some divisi, percussion Music Director Needed (1 player), timpani, and piano. The open­ '111c Unitarian UniversalisL Church or 8an t'mncisco secks Husie/Choir OiI'edor God Be with Us ing section of the tripartite form begins &Iar)': $J6-J9K pillS bencOL, with a discordant dramatic plea, "as if the &nd rc.,ume lo: t'irsl Unilnrian Church • 1187 Franklin 8Lreel God be with us prayer is coming from a place of darkness &n t'rancisco. CII 94109 On this Thy day. Fax: 415/7764400 • Phone: 415/7764580 Amen. God be with us On this Thy night, Amen. To us and with us, On this Thy day, Amen. To us and with us On this Thy night, Amen. It is clear to be seen of us, Since we carne into the world, That we have deserved Thy wrath, Amen. o Thine own wrath, Thou God of all, Amen. Grant us forgiveness, Amen. Grant us forgiveness, We'll Help Amen. You Get Started. Grant to us Thine own forgiveness, Our Suzuki ToneChime method book Thou merciful God of all, series makes it easy, even if you've never Amen. taught or played ToneChimes before. Call Anything that is evil to us, us Toll Free, your music class will be Or that may witness against us, glad you did! Where we shall longest be, [J) [J/} [}J Illume it to us, ~ [] II D CORPORATION Obscure it to us, • • • I!i!!!!!:!lJ 1800 8541584. P.O. Box 261030, San Diego, CA 92196

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