Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
Ruth Watson Henderson (b. 1932) has become one of Canada’s most prolific composers. She began her music study at a very early age and her career as a performer prospered as she received many awards and honors throughout her life. Her accomplishments as a performer and composer are numerous. Her work as the accompanist for the Toronto Children’s Choir has led to many pieces for children’s voices, and her involvement in church music as an organist has resulted in many sacred compositions for mixed choir. This research presents a brief biographical introduction of Ruth Watson Henderson and a conductor’s analysis of Voices of Earth. One of Henderson’s most significant compositions, its original version is scored for three choruses and two pianos. The three choral ensembles are a mixed chamber choir, a mixed large chorus, and a children’s choir. It is also available with orchestral accompaniment, the version used for this research. Voices of Earth is a 25 minute piece with text taken from writings attributed to St. Francis and from the poems of the Canadian poet Archibald Lampman (1861-1899) whose works were prominent in Canada during the second half of the 19th century. The choral works of Ruth Watson Henderson and her Voices of Earth demonstrate her ability to fuse the elements of text and music into an artistic creation which is worthy of performance. Awareness and analysis of noteworthy compositions such as this one brings about a vital connection between composer and conductor that enhances the performance. Understanding the analysis of performance preparation and score study only strengthens the relationship between performer and composer. The role of analysis is to gain insight into the piece itself and to bring about a meaningful interpretation of the composer’s intentions. The goal of this research will bring about this important aspect of analysis and expose the profession to the work of a notable composer.
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Hebert, Ryan Jeffrey, "A conductor's study of Ruth Watson Henderson's Voices of Earth" (2006). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3581.