Flight Song

“This one? Again?!” Yes…. this sound might sound familiar! Two years ago TMEA did audition a mixed (SATB) version of this song. But watch out…. many things have changed since then!

The SATB arrangement of Flight Song was commissioned by Dr. Anton Armstrong, who will be conducting the TMEA All State Treble Choir this year, as they perform this piece. It will be such a special experience for those Sopranos and Altos to work with the person to whom the song is dedicated.

Here’s more about how this piece came to be.

“Flight Song” was written as a gift to Dr. Anton Armstrong and the St. Olaf Choir. Kim writes: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Anton Armstrong and the choir, and their performances have always been sublime.  With this piece, I want to show my gratitude.”

The SSAA version was commissioned and premiered by the Mirinesse Women’s Choir and Rebecca Rottsolk.

Let’s look at what the poet, who wrote the words to this song, has shared about his piece:

“Euan Tait, the poet explains: “This is the first piece on which Kim and I worked together. I live in a house that overlooks two great British rivers, the Wye and the Severn, and the air is constantly alive with the sound of seabird wings and calls, so when Kim came to me with the idea of writing a piece for these amazing young musicians, the idea of flight as a metaphor for the beginning of a young adult life—and as a tribute to a great conductor—came to me first. A human life preparing to take off, and the movements of a conductor’s arm like the beating of a soul’s great wings, are images at the heart of this piece.”

Beginning of a young adult life….sounds familiar, huh? This song should be so poignant a journey for the students who learn and perform it. We are always big fans of singers who make an emotional connection to a song text, so this year is no different.

As you study this piece, make sure that you are using your best choral diction, especially since English is likely your first language. Here’s what we are looking for:

  • Initial consonants that come before the beat
  • Final consonants with a shadow vowel
  • Descriptive words that are colorful, like you would in spoken word (ie: cry, yes, fierce)
  • Attention to grammar, finding the important words in the sentence and phrasing accordingly
  • Breaths that are timed to make sense grammatically

I’d like to caution again that many of you think you already know the melody…but you really don’t! Be sure to mark in your score a few things:

  • Voice crossing (ie: when soprano 2 sings higher than soprano 1)
  • When you are singing melody and then switch to harmony (and vice versa)
  • When you are singing in unison or octaves with another part (or not)

And finally, one last thing that trips up so many people: counting! As with any song with changing time signatures, we recommend highlighting those time signatures and also writing in counts when needed.

Happy practicing!


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