By Alec Roth
Version for SATB Choir, Semi-chorus and String Orchestra (with optional Percussion)
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|Earthrise: Choral Works (inc. Oratorios)||$32.00||View|
|Earthrise: Choral Works (inc. Oratorios)||$75.00||View|
Although suitable for large choirs with string orchestra, this version of Earthrise is also effective for small forces. With one-to-a-part, it may be performed by 12 singers and 5 players.
'Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.' The astronomer Fred Hoyle's 1948 prophecy was fulfilled just twenty years later. The photograph was taken on 24 December 1968 and brought back to Earth by the astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission. The image, captioned 'Earthrise' caused a world-wide sensation on its publication early in 1969. Its influence on the nascent environmental movement was immediate and profound. The picture of our small blue planet in the vast darkness of space showed clearly its beauty, but also its vulnerability:
'It was the most beautiful, heart-catching sight of my life . . . raging nationalistic interests, famines, wars, pestilence don't show from that distance.' (Frank Borman, Apollo 8)
'It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth.' (Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11).
According to that great prophet of our own day, the 'Gaia theory' scientist James Lovelock, man's hubristic claim to dominion over the Earth has led us to the brink of environmental catastrophe. He insists that if we are to come to a true appreciation of the damage we are doing, appealing to reason is not enough. We must develop an emotional connection to the Earth 'by harnessing the power of metaphor and myth, ancient wisdom and sacred texts'.
The astronauts' words find extraordinary parallels in the prophet Isaiah's evocation of a God's-eye view of the Earth: "Lift up your eyes on high and see. Who has measured with three fingers the form of the Earth? He that sits high above the globe of the Earth. Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket! Look, the islands are like a fine dust!" These, together with other visionary words from ancient sources, provide the text for Earthrise, which is sung in Latin.
Throughout his writings Lovelock pays tribute to the importance of the Earthrise image: 'Can there have been any more inspiring vision this century than that of the Earth from space? We saw for the first time what a gem of a planet we live on. The astronauts who saw the whole Earth from Apollo 8 gave us an icon'. The music of Earthrise is a meditation on this icon and falls into three sections:
Part 1 – Man's constant drive to explore and exploit
Part 2 – Contemplation of the Earth seen from space
Part 3 – A plea for true wisdom and understanding
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|Composed by:||Alec Roth|
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