This Light

SSATB or SATB with Treble Choir, with piano and (opt. string quartet)

With music and words expressing determination to find a way forward after challenges, this piece reminds us that we “know what hope feels like inside,” and encourages us to move into the future “with purpose, with grace, the sun in my soul, golden light on my face.” It can be done with SSATB choirs, or a combined Treble and SATB choir, with piano and optional string quartet. Commissioned in celebration of Rainier Youth Choirs’ 15th Anniversary Season, Leora Schwitters, Founder and Artistic Director. Click here to learn more about poet Jordan Chaney.

Unterseher.This-Light.Conductor.perusal

this light

from the
mouth of the earth
like gold on fire

the sun speaks and
spills its secrets of life
of light

then sings them to me

I know what hope
feels like inside

a light in the spirit
a place not too distant

past shadows
and dimness

this light
I feel it

it shines
it shines
brighter
and brighter

waxing away
still making a way

sorrow became faith
woke up the next day
with purpose
with grace

the sun in my soul
golden light on my face

~Jordan Chaney
10 December 2021

Atomic Soldiers

SATB, flute, violin, viola, cello, bass

“Atomic Soldiers” sets the words of soldiers who were subjected to tests of nuclear weapon explosions in battleground situations, excerpted with the kind permission of the New York Times and Morgan Knibbe, filmmaker, from the documentary “The Atomic Soldiers” released in 2019. These soldiers were prevented from speaking about their experiences until the 1990’s, and could have been charged with treason for doing so before that. Musically, it revisits the opening descending figure of the Prologue, and this time it takes the form of a chaconne. The soldiers’ parts, rather than being given to an individual voice, are taken by sections of the chorus. In their interviews, the soldiers tell the stories one at a time, in a linear fashion, but when sung by the chorus, the lines can be re-constructed and layered upon each other as well.

Premiere performance, recorded inside the B Reactor.

Atomic-Soldiers.full_score

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Sadiq

SATB and piano, from “Here, Bullet

The choral version of this piece from the song cycle for tenor, chorus, and piano. Heart-pounding, intense. “It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.” Sa’di

See the song cycle page for more information.

Reginald Unterseher · “Here, Bullet” 3. Sadiq, Unterseher
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Text

Sadiq

It should make you shake and sweat,

nightmare you, strand you in a desert

of irrevocable desolation, the consequences

seared into the vein, no matter what adrenaline

feeds the muscle its courage, no matter

what god shines down on you, no matter

what crackling pain and anger

you carry in your fists, my friend,

it should break your heart to kill.

–Brian Turner

this morning

SATB with piano

Composed for the Washington ACDA Summer Institute Commissioning Project, with a poem by Afrose Fatima Ahmed, this piece uses images of a bear coming out of hibernation and a conversation with a raven to explore societal changes, looking to the future with courage. “This morning the world cries out its song, I hope you opened your ears to hear it, too.” Click here to learn more about the poet.

This-Morning.SATB_piano

this morning

I wake up and open my eyes,
not knowing what I will find.
stepping out onto the street,
the first step in a lifetime.

I’m a bear, skinny and starving,
leaving my cave after winter.
There are salmon in the ocean
inching closer, promising dinner.

This morning I opened my eyes
and the dandelion opened, too.
And the raven said, nice to see
you alive, we’ve really needed you.

When the fires were burning
and the people stayed home
or marched or denied, the airplanes
rested, and we roamed a free sky.

But you’re not a nuisance to us
winged ones, and you are not the cure.
But in the equation of the universe
you play an important figure.

This morning the day beckoned.
This morning I opened to the idea
of something new. This morning the
world cries out its song, I hope you opened
your ears to hear it, too.

~afrose fatima ahmed

Nuclear Dreams: an Oral History of the Hanford Site

Mezzo and Baritone soloists, SATB Chorus, chamber orchestra

Nuclear Dreams: an Oral History of the Hanford Site is a concert-length work exploring the stories and night dreams of those who lived or worked on the land that became the site of the B Reactor, the first full production plutonium reactor in history, part of the Manhattan Project. Plutonium from the B Reactor was used for the Trinity test explosion and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

The piece is featured starting on page 44 of the linked article in the April 2020 Choral Journal “Singing in the Cathedral of the Nuclear Age” by Molly Holleran.

Here are some videos and the program from the premiere by the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, Justin Raffa, conductor. More information can also be found on the Facebook event for the premiere.

Below is a video made from the audio recording on opening night of the piece “Atomic Soldiers.” Atomic Soldiers is now available to be purchased separately

Below is performance video of “Spoonful of Tank Waste,” recorded inside the reactor itself with a live audience.

Below is a performance video of “I Didn’t Know They Work Here,” also recorded inside the reactor with audience.

Below is a performance video of “Spring of Paradise/J. Robert Oppenheimer’s Gita (Reprise)”

Here is the program from the premiere which contains complete program notes, the libretto, and performer information.

mcmprogram19Sep

For performance information, Email: reg@reginaldunterseher.com

A Little Song of Life

Upper Voices, Lower Voices, or Mixed Voices with piano

“Glad that I live, am I!” This setting of Lizette Woodworth Reese’s poem is full of joy, hope, and positive energy, to lift up and inspire both your singers and audiences. A particularly effective piece for festivals and festival choirs. It is now available for Upper Voices, Lower Voices, and Mixed voices with Piano.

MIXED VOICES

A-Little-Song-of-Life.Mixed_Voices_piano.reduced

UPPER VOICES

A-Little-Song-of-Life.Upper_Voices_piano.reduced

LOWER VOICES

A-Little-Song-of-Life.Lower_Voices_piano.reduced

PROGRAM NOTE

The energy, hope and positive energy in the poem is reinforced by the layered rhythms and syncopations in both the piano and voice parts. The poem is divided into three parts. The first part is an expression of the feeling of the joy of the natural world. The middle section explores in simple terms the cyclical nature of natural systems. When the musical material returns, it is both recognizable and developed a little more each time. The third section introduces the last lines of the poems as a mantra, repeated back and forth between two parts while a descant group soars above them.

A Little Song of Life

Glad that I live am I;
That the sky is blue;
Glad for the country lanes,
And the fall of dew.
After the sun the rain,
After the rain the sun;
This is the way of life,
Till the work be done.
All that we need to do,
Be we low or high,
Is to see that we grow
Nearer the sky.

by Lizette Woodworth Reese