Poems by Brooklyn poet Pam McAllister are the alluring lyrics in a world premiere choral work, Mornings With You, performed by  Melodia Women’s Choir on April 30 and May 1 in Manhattan. (WVFC first met Melodia when the ensemble’s power combined in 2009 with that of Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. – Ed.) Four poems by McAllister were set to music by the award-winning composer Christina Whitten Thomas in a new work commissioned by the New York women’s choral group for this spring concert.

Melodia Women’s Choir, a bold ensemble of 32 female vocalists, is one of the region’s leading women’s choirs. The choir explores and performs rarely heard music for women’s voices, said Jennifer Clarke, executive director, who founded the choir in 2003. Melodia has been heard on the radio stations WNYC and WQXR, and seen on NBC-TV. It was named one of the top choirs in New York by “Time Out New York,” and has performed at Symphony Space, Merkin Concert Hall and the Surrogate’s Courthouse as guest artists for Women’s History Month Celebrations of the New York City comptroller.

Through its special Women Composers Commissioning program, Melodia became familiar with the compositions of the Los Angeles-based Whitten Thomas.  Cynthia Powell, Melodia’s artistic director, heard a possible match with the poems of Brooklyn’s McAllister. “Imagine my surprise when this amazing, young, California-based composer Christina Whitten Thomas chose four of my poems for her text,” said McAllister, left.

“She said she was drawn to my poems because they are ‘filled with light.’”

McAllister, who has lived in Park Slope for three decades, is a peace activist and the author or editor of ten books, including Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence and The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Mark Twain.

McAllister’s poems form the four movements of the new composition by Whitten Thomas (right).  “Hunting, Gathering Harmonic Vibrations” wryly describes lovers running to find passages of Shakespeare to read to each other. “You hurry back to bed, pages flying,” says one line. Another poem, “The Glass Half Full,” tells of the quiet distancing of lovers that both “being optimists, see the glass as half full,” but each glass, it turns out, is filled with different things. “Popovers” tells of a memorable breakfast with that food item at its center and social activists who discuss “life, the universe, and everything,” said McAllister.

The poem that forms the title of the work, “Mornings With You,” even features Brooklyn itself in a waking-up reverie, as a couple spins away from each other in pursuit of their day: “Outside, Brooklyn will awaken, and I will find my way back into my life, my little day, now and then thinking of you.”


Other works in the Melodia program, conducted by Cynthia Powell, include “Quarry Weave II” by Meredith Monk, “By the Rivers of Babylon/Psalm 137” by Charles M. Loeffler, and “What is Pink?” by Ned Rorem. Flutronix, a flute duo of Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull, present a new work as guest artists. Also performing with the choir are Julia Bruskin on cello, Rachel Drehmann on French horn, Romie de Guise-Langlois on clarinet and Rita Costanzi on harp, as well as the choir’s longtime collaborator, Taisiya Pushkar, on piano.

Melodia Women’s Choir performs “Mornings With You” on Saturday, April 30, 8 p.m. at Church of the Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Avenue at West 28th Street, New York City, and on Sunday, May 1, 3 p.m. at West End Collegiate Church, 368 West End Avenue at West 77th Street. A reception follows both concerts. Tickets are $25; ($20 advance, $15 students and seniors with ID); Advance tickets may be ordered at www.melodiawomenschoir.org or Brown Paper Tickets, 800-838-3006.

For more information, visit www.melodiawomenschoir.org, or write [email protected]

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