Behold the Handmaid: Reflections from composer Rick Asher and poet Robert Bode
On October 5th & 6th Choral Arts will open its 21st season presenting Ave Maria. This exquisite program includes the premiere of Behold the Handmaid, music by area composer Rick Asher, set to an original text by our own Artistic Director and accomplished poet Robert Bode. We offer a glimpse behind the creation of this new work from the perspective of the poet and composer. As Bode explains, “This poem imagines the moments after the Angel Gabriel has announced to Mary that she will give birth to the son of God. After the angel departs, Mary sings a song that foretells the life of Jesus.”
Working with Bode and Asher, the singers gain an intimacy with the music and greater understanding of exactly what is intended with this newly commissioned work. Our singers are passionate about delivering the meaning or spirit behind the music rather than simply the notes on a page. What you will hear this weekend, and what you will hear from Choral Arts at every performance, is an expression of emotion that can only occur once the music has been deeply explored in its various aspects such as pitch, dynamic, rhythm, and text.
We take you inside the music’s creation with Mr. Asher’s reflection on Behold the Handmaid:
“Robert has written a lyrical poem that appeared to me on first reading to portray Mary simply as a serene recipient of the message given her by the Angel Gabriel. As I pondered it for several weeks, however, I realized that his text suggests a glimpse into the possible complexity of Mary’s reaction to the Annunciation. I eventually found Mary to be facing several profound and challenging realizations. First, she ponders that she is now the chosen handmaid – the servant – of the Lord. Then, by saying “I will receive Love” it becomes clear that she consciously chooses, perhaps as all Christians are called to do each Christmas, to “receive Love” in the form of a child. Like any expectant parent, she becomes resolute about how she will first carry, then feed and shelter that child. But that joy turns dark as she presciently commits herself to the eventual reality of comforting, surrendering and then remembering Love. Only after she has made that emotional journey from Receiving Love to Surrendering Love can she truly, joyously say ‘I will sing Love.’ “ Learn more about Rick Asher‘s work.
Behold the Handmaid by Robert Bode
Then the angel departed from Mary,
Trailing angel-music in the still-shimmering air.
And Mary looked into the jasmine-scented night and sang:
I will receive Love.
I will carry Love.
I will feed Love.
I will shelter Love.
I will comfort Love.
I will surrender Love.
I will remember Love.
I will sing Love.
Join Choral Arts this weekend for our opening performances!