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Alvin Singleton

Sweet Chariot

for chamber ensemble

two flutes (doubling piccolo and alto flute), bassoon, soprano saxophone (doubling tenor saxophone), and cello (2012)
Duration16'
CommissionCommissioned by Astral Artists with generous funding provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Music Project. Sweet Chariot is dedicated to the memory of Julian Rodescu.
PremiereFebruary 16, 2013; Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia, PA; Astral Artists
PublisherSchott Music

Media

Program Note

Alvin Singleton’s  SWEET CHARIOT is scored for 2 flutes (each doubling both piccolo and alto flute), bassoon, soprano saxophone (doubling tenor saxophone) and cello.  Of special interest about this instrumentation is the doubling of the saxophone and the tripling of the flutes, which in effect turns this quintet into a “tentet,” and required almost choreographic skills of the composer to make sure the player had time to drop one instrument and assume another in time to play the next note. Taken overall, the music in this piece seems to be about rising, perhaps suggestive of the journey from swinging low to being carried home. 

The work opens with a series of solo instruments, their lyrical lines piling up contrapuntally into what may sound like a choir in full voice gone a bit mad. Being Singleton, this is immediately followed by a stark contrast—a puckish staccato phrase, itself followed by some long tones blasted out. Bit by bit the composer lays out his building blocks constructed from his personally-created 9-note modal scale. Heard frequently throughout is a four-note “theme” derived from the melodic curve of the words “sweet chariot.” Anyone expecting SWEET CHARIOT to have a typical old-fashioned theme-and-variations set up might be disappointed. Seeking to hear the spiritual whole-cloth won’t work here. But the composer writes of this:

Human experience shows that there are images familiar to us that they do not have to be completely defined. How much of a face does one need to sketch out (absent nose, eyes, mouth) before it is recognizable as a face? When choosing a “Negro Spiritual” upon which to base my composition, I chose one that is universally recognizable, Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Therefore I needed not to use it in its entirety. In fact, it is sketchily quoted a few times here and there throughout the composition.

SWEET CHARIOT seems to be, much like Singleton’s recent orchestral work DIFFERENT RIVER, created from a series of disparate events, often divided from one another by silences or long-held tones. Some of them seem lyrically mournful, some fanfare-esque, some dancey (at one point almost salsa-like), some joyful, some loud, some soft, high and low…but always highly-contrasted and unpredictable. Also unpredicted in this polytonal mélange of notes is the fact that the whole 16-minute piece ends—carrying us home?—on a resounding F major.

— Carman Moore

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Types of Products

Full score and Solo Part (Digital)

Chamber Ensemble Score (Print)

Piano Reduction and solo parts (Digital)

Choral Score Set - 16 copies (Print)
Includes 8 copies of the soprano/alto part and 8 copies of the tenor/bass part.

Score and part (Digital)

Score and part (Print)

Conductor Score (Print)

Full Score/Violin Part (Print)

Full Score/Violin Part (Digital)

Piano reduction and solo part (Print)

Piano/Vocal Score (Print)

Piano/Vocal Score (Digital)

Video and instructions (Digital)

Study Score in Two Volumes (Print)

Score and Parts (Digital)
Score and part PDF files are delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase.

Soprano/Alto Part (Print)

Full Score (Digital)
A PDF file of the full score is delivered via email upon receipt.

Full Score (Print)
A print edition of the score ships to the customer's address upon receipt.

Tenor/Bass Part (Print)

Parts (Digital)
A PDF file of the part(s) is delivered via email upon receipt.

Parts (Print)
A print edition of the part(s) ship to the customer's address upon receipt.

Solo Instrument Score (Digital)
A score PDF file is delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Full Score/Performance Score (Digital)
The full score serves as a performance score for all players. A score PDF file is delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Score and Parts (Print)
A print edition of the score and part(s) ship to the customer's address upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. The email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer.

Solo Instrument Score (Print)
A print edition of the score is shipped to the customer's address upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Full Score/Performance Score (Print)
The full score serves as a performance score for all players. Print edition(s) of the full score/performance score are shipped to the customer's address upon receipt. Multiple copies are included if the work has more than one player. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase.

Choral Score (Digital)
A PDF file of the choral score is delivered via email upon receipt. The set is priced to allow multiple copies of the PDF to be printed for performance by the purchasing organization only.

Choral Score Set- 8 copies (Print)
Minimum order quantity is 8 copies. Single copies are not available.

Vocal Score (Digital)

Vocal Score (Print)

Choral Score (Print)

Full Score and Solo Part (Print)
A print edition of the score and solo part ships to the customer's address upon receipt.

Study Score (Print)

Study Score (Digital)