First song in the suite Heart Songs of the White Wampum, a setting for four poems from the anthology Flint and Feather written by the Canadian poet E. Pauline Johnson. She was raised in Southern Ontario, the daughter of an English immigrant and a Mohawk Chief. Her Mohawk name was Tekahionwake. Two of the poems are taken from a previously published collection entitled The White Wampum. This title refers to a type of shell widely used as currency in North America around the time of western contact. The white wampum was a highly valuable denomination within this monetary system. These poems express Johnson’s love of nature, both in their joy and playfulness and in the sincere way they express feelings of compassion and tenderness. Pauline Johnson died in 1913 and is buried in Stanley Park, Vancouver.
Commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir, Morna Edmundson, Artistic Director, Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont, Dr. Dawn Willis, Artistic Director, and the University of Toronto Women’s Chamber Choir,
Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt, Conductor.
Commissioned with the generous financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Diane Loomer Commissioning Fund for Elektra Women’s Choir.
From out the west, where darkling storm-clouds float,
The ‘waking wind pipes soft its rising note.
From out the west, o’erhung with fringes grey,
The wind preludes with sighs its roundelay,
Then blowing, singing, piping, laughing loud,
It scurries on before the grey storm-cloud;
Across the hollow and along the hill
It whips and whirls among the maples, till
With boughs upbent, and green of leaves blown wide,
The silver shines upon their underside.
A gusty freshening of humid air,
With showers laden, and with fragrance rare;
And now a little sprinkle, with a dash
Of great cool drops that fall with sudden splash;
Then over field and hollow, grass and grain,
The loud, crisp whiteness of the nearing rain.