Tuesday, October 27, 2015


“Talent is only the starting point.”
AUTHOR: Irving Berlin
“Talent will only be of use if you combine it with hard work and effort.”

The Promise of Living

“The Promise of Living” is the opera’s best known song.
It was largely derived from“Zion’s Walls,” a hymn song
included in the second set of Copland’s Old American
Songs (1952). In the opera it is set to a gathering of three
family generations, along with their hired itinerant
farmhands, as they sing a stirring hymn of hope, love and
gratitude  for life and harvest. Today it is frequently
performed as a separate choral anthem.
The promise of living with hope and thanksgiving
is born of our loving our friends and our labor.
The promise of growing with faith and with knowing
is born of our sharing our love with our neighbor.
For many a year we've known these fields and known all the work that makes them yield.
Are you ready to lend a hand? We’ll bring in the harvest, the blessings of harvest.
We plant each row with seeds of grain, and Providence sends us the sun and the rain.
By lending a hand, by lending an arm, bring out from the farm,
bring out the blessings of harvest.
Give thanks there was sunshine, give thanks there was rain.
Give thanks we have hands to deliver the grain.
Come join us in thanking the Lord for his blessing.
O let us be joyful. O let us be grateful to the Lord for His blessing.
The promise of ending in right understanding
is peace in our own hearts and peace with our neighbor.
O let us sing our song, and let our song be heard.
Let’s sing our song with our hearts, and find a promise in that song.
The promise of living.
The promise of growing.
The promise of ending is labor and sharing our loving.

Inspired by photographs in James Agee and Walker
Evans’ timeless account of Depression-era America,

"The Tender Land" Suite
Finale: The Promise of Living
Inspired by the Photographs of Walker Evans

Copland and his librettist, the dancer and painter Erik Johns, under the pseudonym
Horace Everett, fashioned a drama centered around a mid-western farm girl, around
the 1930's on the eve of her graduation from high school, who longs to discover life 
outside the confines of her small town. The main character, Laurie Moss, is faced 
with life-defining choices regarding love, family ties, and independence when two 
drifters, Martin and Top, appear looking for work. The theme of outsiders, 
groundlessly accused of wrongdoing, invading the peaceful world of rural 
America, mirrors certain contemporaneous social concerns.
Tender Land Promo
Copland explained the premise of the story in a letter he wrote
to his friend and fellow composer, William Flanagan, in 1952:
"I am working on an untitled, as yet, two-act opera,
lasting about one hour and a half. It has a libretto
by a young writer named Horace Everett (pseudo-
nym for Erik Johns). The action calls for a cast of
five principal singers and takes place in a lower
middle-class farm in the Middle West. Time is the
present. The subject concerns the coming to
maturity of a young girl."
The Tender Land
Laurie's Aria, Love Duet

The Tender Land
"Stomp Your Foot"
Conductor and Choreographer: Rebecca Lord
UCLA University Chorus

Stomp your foot upon the floor.
Throw the windows open,
Take a breath of 
fresh June air,
and dance around the room.

The air is free, the night is warm,
The music's here, and here's my home.

Men must labor to be happy,
Plowing fieds and lanting rows.
But ladies love a life that's easy:
Churning butter, milking cows,
Gathering eggs, feeding sows.

Mending, cooking, cleaning, ironing, raising families.

Ladies love their fine amusement,
Putting patches on a quilt,
But men prefer to bend their shoulder
To something that will stand when built.

Dancing ladies, making matches,
Playing games, singing snatches.

Romping, frisking, winking, whistling, raising families.

Stomp your foot upon the floor.
Throw the windows open,
Take a breath of
 fresh June air,and dance around the room.

The air is free, the night is warm,
The music's here, and here's my home.

Watch a Section from the Opera:
Jack Stamp, Conductor
Indiana University of Pennsylvania