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The first movement, based on Nobody knows the trouble I seen, begins quietly but gradually builds a vibrant and glittering surface -- with motoric rhythmic elements that almost suggest minimalist music. The music represents the text's talk of the ups and downs of the journey of life -- while 'goin' along' [listen -- track 3, 0:00-0:59].

The second movement, I got a crown, is tense and expectantly ecstatic -- with short, dissonant punctuations in the orchestra and hints of a gospel choir in the choral parts.

The third movement, on Were you there? is a distant and serene meditation. The text of the spiritual speaks of Jesus' crucifixion and death; Balada paints the introspection of that night [listen -- track 5, 0:00-1:35].

The finale War no mo' is again excited and motoric. It builds to a jubilant conclusion -- a glorious vision of the joy to live in a peaceful world [listen -- track 6, 2:00-2:58].

Although the musical language of the work uses basically diatonic elements, Balada adds his characteristic extended orchestral techniques and colors to 'wrap' the spirituals in his own personality.

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Copyright © 3 November 2005 Carson P Cooman, Pittsburgh USA


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