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Suite Remembrance: If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking (2018)

for SATB choir | 00:04:00

by Melissa Dunphy | text by Emily Dickinson

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Commissioned by the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus (Philip Barnes, Artistic Director).

Suite Remembrance is a set of four contrasting “memorial dances” for unaccompanied mixed chorus. Movements range from energetic to lyrical and moving, and each takes after a dance form. This movement is the third of the set. The touching text by Emily Dickinson is set to music in the form of an expressive Sarabande.

[Dunphy's] set of four short pieces entitled Remembrance explores the relationship between dance and song. The first two settings are contrasting pieces in lively dance rhythms. There follows a haunting setting of Emily Dickinson’s ‘If I can stop one heart from breaking’. This slow and expressive piece takes the suite off in a different direction. For the final piece, Melissa Dunphy’s choice of words from Psalm 30 (‘Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing’) is adroit; the words bridge nicely from the introspection of Dickinson back to extrovert dancing for the last movement of this attractive Suite. [MusicWeb International]

III. If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking
By Emily Dickinson (ca. 1862)

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.