2017-02-19 Notes from the Bench

 

“Set Me as a Seal” by René Clausen

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate

 

Text:

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death.

 

 

 

René Clausen (b. 1953) is an American Composer who is currently a professor of music at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and the conductor of the Concordia Choir. Born in California, Clausen received his undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in choral conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Clausen is a composer with a varied and eclectic style, writing choral, orchestral, wind ensemble, and film music, setting sacred and secular texts. His choral music is widely performed by high school and church choirs while college and professional choirs perform his more technically demanding works. His harmonic language is usually classified as “neo-romantic;” music that is overall tonal, but enriched and expanded with harmonies based on close dissonances and “tone clusters.” Clausen has received numerous accolades including three awards at the 2013 Grammy Awards for his recording of choral works, “Life & Breath: Choral Works by René Clausen.”

“Set Me as a Seal” is one of the final movements from Clausen’s cantata, a new Creation, written in 1989. Clausen composed a new Creation as a piece in praise of God, and expresses through music aspects of the relationship between God and humanity. Originally titled “Hymn” in the cantata, “Set Met as a Seal” is among Clausen’s shorter works and is a setting the biblical text from the Song of Solomon, 8:6-7. This movement has been widely performed independently of the cantata, which has led to its popularity and eventual title modification.

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