Trade Winds

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Featured recording

Earham College Concert Choir and members of the Rhythm Project
William Culverhouse, conductor

Trade Winds is a piece about movement, inspiration, connections, and the four elements. It is about our hearts, our spirits, and our common humanity. It is about being open to that which moves us and that which moves between us.

Trade Winds is for large chorus and a five-player percussion ensemble; the percussion instruments come from all world traditions, but the African djembe plays a central role. It is a single-movement work that explores a beautiful poem by rising-star DC poet, Lisa Pegram. Trade Winds was a collaboration between Arbury and Pegram – who worked closely together to develop the poetry and music simultaneously – and the premiere event included a residency by the two of them at Earlham College as they spoke at the weekly college-wide symposium event and met with Music and English classes throughout the week as well. Trade Winds thus has its roots in collaboration and community and remains a deeply interactive work for both composer and poet.

Pegram’s evocative writing follows the form of a “cleave” poem, in which stanzas are laid next to each other to either be read individually or successively so that the lines from the different stanzas interact and overlap. Arbury takes advantage of this in his four-part choral setting, assigning different stanzas to the different voice parts, thus allowing the stanzas to be presented both individually and combined. The result is something greater than either the music or poetry alone.

Download a sample score

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