Francis Snyder FILE PHOTO

MDI High grad will premiere choral work



For its spring concert series, the Bagaduce Chorale has commissioned a work by a former Mount Desert Island High School student who is now studying music theory and composition at Boston University.

“Parks and Ponds,” composed by Francis Snyder, is one of nine works the chorale will perform during a four-concert series called the “Eternal Sky Centennial Ride.” Inspiration for the concerts comes from the natural world and, especially in the case of Snyder’s piece, the Acadia National Park centennial.

Snyder, who is a junior at BU, said the chorale’s music director, Bronwyn Kortge, contacted him about the commission last year. The two knew each other from when Snyder was a student at MDIHS; Kortge teaches vocal music at the school.

Snyder jumped at the opportunity and began working on the piece early last summer. He completed it in February.

The work has five movements, four of which use the text of the Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poems “Parks and Ponds,” “Berrying,” “April” and “The Park.”

Snyder considered the work of other poets before deciding on Emerson.

“It’s hard to find good poetry that fits with music,” he said.

Emerson’s poems had the desired rhythm and themes appropriate to celebrating nature. It is obvious Emerson was writing from the heart, Snyder said.

“He spent a lot of time in New England wandering in the woods and exploring,” he explained.

Along with the voices of the chorale, Snyder’s “Parks and Ponds” is scored for a string orchestra, tympani and other percussion. He describes the work as “modern but not in an abrasive way.”

As performed by the chorale, Snyder’s work will be a multimedia presentation. Jeff Zaman, who teaches video and television at MDIHS, is editing footage of Kortge riding her bicycle in Acadia National Park that will be screened during the performance.

“I wrote the piece first, and they’ll adapt the video to the piece,” Snyder said.

Snyder inputs his compositions into a computer using music software that enables him to replay the work. However, the software is unable to replicate voices. The first – and only time – where he’s heard “Parks and Ponds” sung was at an early rehearsal by the chorale.

“It’s really cool,” he said of hearing one of his compositions performed. “It’s so satisfying and fulfilling.”

He plans to attend all four concerts next month.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” he said. “I’ll be there for every performance.”

Performances of the Bagaduce Chorale’s spring concert, “Eternal Sky Centennial Ride,” are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 6 and 3 p.m. May 7 at the Reach Performing Arts Center in Deer Isle and at 7:30 p.m. on May 12 and 13 at MDI High School in Bar Harbor. The suggested donation is $15; there is no charge for students.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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