Commissioned by the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE), Redbirds was composed in 2020 and premiered by the national children’s honor choir and conductor Ruth Dwyer at the OAKE national conference in Pittsburgh in 2022. Poem by Sara Teasdale (1884 – 1933)
Published by Colla Voce 24-95630 Available from Canticle Distributing
With the mission of OAKE and children’s choirs in general in mind, I wanted to choose a text for this piece that children might connect with easily. I was initially drawn to the Sara Teasdale poem for its lilting, song-like rhythm, but I quickly grew to find its lucid nostalgia to be rich in opportunities for musical storytelling.
In the poem, Teasdale vividly portrays a fond memory – cardinals singing and images of trees and hills overlooking the Mississippi River – only to end on a questioning, slightly melancholy note. The piece opens with the piano simulating the chirping of cardinals in the past, and the poem is set to a folk-like melody in the Mixolydian mode – neither happy nor sad.
I hope that children who perform Redbirds will find it thought-provoking and enjoyable.