A Timbered Choir

for SATB

Text by Wendell Berry

The concert's emotional high point was Flaherty's "A Timbered Choir," with words by Wendell Berry. Four excerpts took us from harmonious minimalism, through an intense vision of our destruction of the landscape, to a feeling of anguished triumph. [Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble; Deborah Jenkins Teske, cond.]
–– Mark Arnest, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)

premiered April 26, 2001

Pomona College Glee Club
Donna M. Di Grazia, conductor

Claremont United Church of Christ
Claremont, California

Diane Beck
Valerie Dawley
Elsbeth Escher
Kristy Hyomi Kim
Sadia Rebecca Rahman
Jocelyn Robson
Joanne K. Takagi

Kristin Connor
Emily de Ayora
Alison Ellsworth
Katie Golus
Nicki Taylor
Sarah Drewniak
Rebecca Howard

Alan Bush
Andrew Miller
Timothy H. Sachs
Ari Sommer
Matthew Zay

Drew Foerster
Nathaniel B. Johnson
Nathan Rostron
Amar Shah
Adam Teicholz
Mark Wolfmeyer


Wendell Berry is well known as a poet, essayist, and environmentalist. His writings speak with directness and disarming simplicity, of nature, of humanity, and of the complex interactions between all parties. With seriousness of purpose, his poetry exudes patience, warmth, and quiet humor. In all his writings he values community above individual whims, with an unsentimental but unwavering sense of responsibility paramount.

He has lived the kind of environmentally responsible life that he advocates. Although he taught English for many years at the University of Kentucky, he has lived and worked for most of his life on the family farm in Henry County, Kentucky, where he raises crops and livestock.
He refuses to own a computer or television. He writes in pencil, and his wife types up his final copies on a manual typewriter.

A Timbered Choir is a collection of poems written on Sunday morning walks from 1979 to 1997. This setting is of several of these poems from the 1997 set.

"Best of any Song " refers to the song of birds, and how to hear them. The four voices in this setting chirp the same short tune at various levels and recede into silence. "Even While I Dreamed" decries the loss of natural and human community for the sake of the short-sighted "objective." "I was Wakened from my Dream" follows, as the real rain washes away the nightmare of alienation. "There is a Day" quietly prefers being to going. The short text is set with very little music, which spins around itself canonically, ultimately neither coming nor going, but rather enjoying the spin.

This setting of A Timbered Choir was commissioned by and is dieicated to Donna Di Grazia and the Pomona Colege Glee Club.


I. Best of Any Song-score excerpt

II. Even While I Dreamed-score excerpt

II. I was Awakened From My Dream-score excerpt

IV. There is a Day-score excerpt



other choral pieces