for double choir (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass)  

Thomas Hardy’s poem The Spell of the Rose tells a story of alternating hope and turmoil in a troubled love relationship. Galbraith assigns passages of direct speech to solo voice and narrative passages to the full choir; he also adapts the poem slightly, dovetailing together Hardy’s first and second stanzas. This creates an antiphonal texture that is then abandoned in the verses that follow, enhancing the sense of loss they convey. The slightly darker setting of the second verse indicates that the “spell” of the title is more likely a curse. Hope returns in the fourth verse with the lovers declaring they can salvage their relationship by planting the promised rose bush, while the fifth verse gathers together most of the preceding musical ideas as it moves toward a conclusion. By omitting Hardy’s final stanza, Galbraith affirms his positive interpretation of the poem: that love triumphs in the end. 

Performed by:
University Voices
Robert Sund, conductor

Commissioned with generous support of the Laidlaw Foundation