A Birthday

for 5-part choir

by Vaughan McAlley (2009)

Score excerpt

Recording of a live performance by Angeli Vocal Ensemble:
Kate McBride – soprano
Leonie Tonkin – alto
Vaughan McAlley – tenor
Joel Gladman – tenor
Tom Reid – bass

A Birthday was composed for the wedding of my friends Kate McBride and Tom Reid. The poetry by Christina Rosetti (1830-1894) joyfully depicts the potential of new (and of not-so-new) love:

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

The poetry is very sensuous, and I have tried to depict this in the music.