Lodestar | SATB Chorus & Treble Soloist | 6'

I think of Lodestar as a sort of fable for adults. Diane Thiel's text for the piece, from her poem Nursery Shellgame, describes life in the language of fairy tales and children's stories: "a trail of crumbs," "a handful of blue marbles," "how you wonder what you are."

There's darkness here, too: "years spent / following the tracks of other things / that would chew off limbs / to free themselves, knowing / they would never grow back."


The last line of Thiel's poem, though, was what persuaded me that I absolutely had to set this poem to music: "Make sure you take a ship with you. Make sure you do. Even a swimmer as strong as you / needs a ship sometimes—even you."


I love the lyricism of the writing here, but more than that, this line offers such a quiet reassurance. Life is no fairy tale, and there is no correct path to follow; maybe we're not even as strong as we think we may be. Knowing this, though, we can still look out for ourselves; whatever our "ship" is, when we remember to rely on it, it will be there for us.


Lodestar is published in the G. Schirmer Craig Hella Johnson series; preview or purchase the score hereThis piece is also recorded on Choral Arts Initiative's album How to Go On: The Choral Works of Dale Trumbore, featuring soloist Lorraine Joy Welling.

Lodestar was commissioned by Nova Vocal Ensemble (Jonathan Bautista, director) and Yayra Sanchez, soprano.