Bell Tower is a potent reminder of the meaning of pain and uncertainty in our world — and a call to action for us not to run from it, but to live with it, so it may serve as a gateway to loving and living fearlessly. Depicting this journey of healing, the music unfolds gradually from a gentle and almost eerily quiet opening to an impassioned and roaring finale. This piece is a fitting addition for programs on themes of remembrance, overcoming grief, healing, and finding hope.
This work is a setting of a breathtaking translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29. Bell Tower was commissioned by Chor Leoni, Erick Lichte, Artistic Director, and premiered on November 10, 2021, at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Bell Tower is the winner of the 2023 Chor Leoni C/4: Canadian Choral Composition Competition and a recipient of a Barbara Pentland Award for Outstanding Composition from the Canadian Music Centre (2022).
Program note from the composer
"I came across the text for Bell Tower in March 2020, just as COVID-19 rapidly changed our world. I found myself returning to the poem day after day for weeks as I began to process my own grief and I knew I couldn’t ignore this creative pull. One thing I found particularly striking and timely about this text was how Rilke calls us not to run from the discomfort of our pain, but to live with it, because it doesn’t stay static. Rather, if we let it, our pain will turn to reveal the other side of the coin, which is our love for the world — a powerful and enduring message.
In my musical setting I aimed to depict the journey of healing described in this text. As you listen to Bell Tower, you’ll hear the music gradually unfold from a gentle and almost eerily quiet opening to a powerful, impassioned, and roaring finale!" — K.G.