Orchard in Bloom – Carol Barnett

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Product Type: Digital Download

Format: SATB Score

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Composer: Carol Barnett

Text by: Timothy Murphy (1951-2018)

Instrumentation: SATB and viola

Duration: Approx. 3'30" minutes

Date Written:  2022

Composer’s note: The assignment for this commission was “a new work based on nature themes”– a wide net indeed. Our text selection process was the usual enjoyable back and forth; Rick sent some poems; I countered with several more – all very nice, but my thoughts kept returning to a short poem that appears in Timothy Murphy’s Set the Ploughshare Deep: a prairie memoir, a mixture of prose recounting the hard life of farming on the North Dakota prairie, and poems that memorialize it in exquisitely rhymed meter. 

Timothy Murphy was born in Hibbing and spent his college years at Yale learning poetry from Robert Penn Warren. Although he was already a published poet when he graduated, Warren refused to recommend him for a prestigious academic post, advising him to “Go home, boy. Buy a farm. Sink your toes in that rich soil and grow some roots.” “Orchard in Bloom” is just one of the resulting fruits. The music is an aural orchard, humming with busy insects and birds, accompanied by that buzziest of stringed instruments, the viola.

– Carol Barnett


These seven hundred trees
pillar a pagan church,
a basilica for bees
where seraphic songbirds
promiscuously perch
to blend their melodies
in canticles whose words
the vernal believer
need never decipher.
-Timothy Murphy (1951-2018) From Set the Ploughshare Deep: a prairie memoir. Used with permission from Ohio University Press.

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