No Whining, No Flowers
In 2003, the Cornell University Chorus launched a commissioning project known informally as "No Whining, No Flowers". The goal of the project is to expand the contemporary repertoire for treble choirs by commissioning pieces from women composers using text from women writers. Furthermore, these texts are intended to explore topics that differ from the traditional treble choir repertoire themes of "Oh woe, my man has left me," and "La la, look at all the pretty flowers" - hence the title of the project. Please see below for more information about our recently commissioned pieces.
2017-2018: The Grail Bird By Christine Donkin
Christine Donkin's The Grail Bird sets to music the field notes of Melinda LaBranche, a Cornell scientist on a 2004 research expedition in Arkansas. LeBranche details her possible sighting of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, a bird long believed extinct. Donkin's setting employs a narrator and two choirs to create an immersive soundscape that vividly captures this remarkable story at the intersection of discovery and belief.
2016-2017: Perception Test and Jump the chromosome BY Mia Makaroff
Mia Makaroff's Perception Test beautifully captures the scientist’s world-view, constant oscillation between inquiry and wonder. Jump the Chromosome celebrates the pathbreaking career of Cornell’s own Barbara McClintock, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine in 1983 for her discovery of transposons, also known as “jumping genes.” As a nod to McClintock’s own interest in jazz, Makaroff has set both poems in a lighter, popular style.
2015-2016: Malala by Adrienne Albert
Adrienne Albert celebrates the life and words of women's education activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai in this year’s commission. At the time of the piece’s premiere, Malala was the same age as the Chorus’s youngest members.
2014-2015: Songs from Ort by Lisa Bielawa
This year's commission, Songs from Ort, by Rome Prize winner Lisa Bielawa is a musical composition whose textual origin reveals a dizzying series of new beginnings, via fictitious attribution, translation, collaboration, and finally the poetic technique of erasure.
2013-2014: Onion Days by Flannery Cunningham
Flannery Cunningham, a recent Mitchell Scholar, celebrates the dignity of working women from both sides of the Atlantic in her composition Onion Days. The text combines a Carl Sandburg poem with a Scottish waulking tune (waulking is the act of tossing and beating newly woven cloth, to strengthen it).
2012-2013: KASSIA'S HYMN, KAY RHIE
This year's commissioned piece is Kay Rhie's modern arrangement of Kassia's Hymn, a piece traditionally sung during Catholic services in the last week of Lent.
2011-2012: Voices of the Hills by Sally Lamb McCune
This piece, Voices of the Hills, is a set of four Appalachian folk songs arranged in a more contemporary style by composer Sally Lamb McCune.
2010-2011: To Music by David Conte
This year, the Chorus commissioned a special piece in honor of Chorus alumna Heather Walters, '81, who passed away on August 27, 2009. Entitled To Music, the piece was composed by Cornell alumnus David Conte with text by Henry Van Dyke.
2009-2010: A Book of Spells by Libby Larsen
This piece is a set of five movements--spells--in the spirit of Halloween, the day the work was premiered. The text is by Z.E. Budapest. Larsen is a Grammy award winning composer and co-founder of the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer's Forum.
2008-2009: Chant for Great Compassion by Abbie Betinis
The text for Chant for Great Compassion, both English and Chinese transliteration, comes from Qiu Jin, Wang Erbei, and the traditional 'Great Compassion Mantra.' Betinis is a "most audacious... edgy and thrilling" young female composer known for setting texts of various cultures and time periods.
2007-2008: Juggler of Day by Augusta Read Thomas
The text for Juggler of Day comes from two Emily Dickinson poems. Augusta Read Thomas is a well known composer and teacher of music. She was the Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 to 2006, and one of the two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2007.
2006-2007: Song of Perfect Propriety by Carol Barnett
The text for Song of Perfect Propriety comes from a poem by Dorothy Parker. Carol Barnett's music has been called audacious and engaging. Her varied catalog includes works for solo voice, piano, chorus, diverse chamber ensembles, orchestra, and wind ensemble.
2005-2006: A Voice by Edie Hill
The text for A Voice comes from a poem by May Sarton. Edie Hill is a nationally acclaimed composer whose vocal and instrumental works are frequently performed both internationally and throughout the U.S.
2004-2005: The Sadness of the Sea by Sally Lamb McCune
The Sadness of the Sea is a three movement piece with 2007 text derived from the works of Lydia Huntley Sigourney, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the traditional children's tune "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
2003-2004: Why I Pity the Woman Who Never Spills by Elizabeth Alexander
Why I Pity the Woman Who Never Spills is "a gutsy, sensual blues setting of Joan Wolf Prefontaine's poem in praise of messy women."