Dawn describes the feeling of waking up in the early hours of the morning, and the peace that comes from watching the sun rise. The piece has a grounding motif which resembles a heartbeat, and the changes in tonal centre throughout the piece reflect the slow emergence of the sun from behind the horizon. Dawn was premiered by the University of Toronto’s Concreamus Chamber Choir at their inaugural concert in January 2020, alongside the works of other young emerging composers.
The soft-toned clock upon the stair chimed three—
Too sweet for sleep, too early yet to rise.
In restful peace I lay with half-closed eyes,
Watching the tender hours go dreamily;
The tide was flowing in; I heard the sea
Shivering along the sands; while yet the skies
Were dim, uncertain, as the light that lies
Beneath the fretwork ofsome wild-rose tree
Within the thicket gray. The chanticleer
Sent drowsy calls across the slumbrous air;
In solemn silence sweet it was to hear
My own heart beat . . . Then broad and deep and fair
Trembling in its new birth from heaven’s womb—
One crimson shaft of dawn sank thro’ my room.
~ Ella Rhodes Higginson