Where Beauty Comes From (cycle)


Paper Cranes
Twenty Questions
Before We Get Dusty
Where Beauty Comes From

TBB; SA; SSAA; SATB, piano

In 2010, the American Composers Forum, Children's Hospital of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Minnesota Boychoir, composer TImothy C. Takach and poet Julia Klatt Singer collaborated to create 4 new pieces of choral music. Julia wrote poems using the words and stories of the patients at Children's, and Tim set these words to music. The Minnesota Boychoir premiered the entire cycle in May of 2011.

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Catalog Number: 
Where Beauty Comes From (cycle)
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Commissioned By: 
Commissioned for Healing and Hope Through Song, a program of the American Composers Forum, with partial funding provided by Saint Paul Cultural STAR. Premiered by the Minnesota Boychoir, Mark Johnson, Artistic Director.
Premiere Date: 
Premiere Ensemble: 
Minnesota Boychoir
Premiere Conductor: 
Mark Johnson
Text Author or Source: 
Julia Klatt Singer

Paper Cranes
Wings made of paper, wishes made of air
One sits by the window, so quiet
The world out there
Made of buses, made of clouds
Made of steel, made of cranes.

One sits by the window
Listens to the dreams
we dream, hears the hum
of each machine,
knows that
If you could see
the way my mind moves
You'd hear the music in me.

In my head, an endless number,
A bear with no name.
Some things will always be here
Do not need a name or end
Some things we'll never
Ever understand.

Blue's my favorite color
Ruby and Rose, my favorite names
The day after we're born
Is when our real life begins.

How does the crane carry
my wish on its wings?
How does the star rising,
hold my handprint
In its blaze?

A thousand cranes tied together,
left hanging cloud to cloud,
until tattered by the breeze,
and when they are broken
our wish begins.

Twenty Questions
When you're in a hospital bed
There's not much to do
So you study the numbers,
follows the tubes,
ask yourself questions, like

Do elephants have belly buttons?
Do pandas like peanuts?
Do you think I'll lose my smile,
when I'm a grown up?

The nurses keep going
home every day.
Just stay for one,
then a new one comes.

Twenty questions, it's just a game
It says it can read my mind
But it doesn't even know
what I'm talking about.

Don't want to think about
all the things I'm missing,
all the time I'm spending here.
Don't want to think, so instead

How many flavors of ice cream
Are there in the world?
What would a red whale look like,
in a red sea?

When you're in a hospital bed
There's not much to do
So you memorize your arm band,
the tune the I.V. sings.

Daddy ate a birthday candle
Just for fun.
Mom tells me she's seen me
do the bravest things.

You ask me if it's hard
to be here in this bed. I tell you
life is hard, no matter
where you're living it.

I do know this
No game can prove me wrong
There is so much happy
and sad, so all of a sudden
& there isn't anything
we wouldn't do
for each other.

Before We Get Dusty
I wish I had some bubble wrap
To pop with my feet
Want to jump, poke holes in paper
When it's you, visiting me.

Feeling shy and thank you
Did you know my insides glow?
I swim like a fish, I dance like the wind
In the banana tree leaves.

I like pushing things
I like fighting and watching tv
I wish right now I was a bug
Climbing up your knee.

We'll leave before we get dusty
We'll run and climb every tree
Maybe tomorrow we'll find some
Maybe we'll all turn into bees.

I like to laugh and play with my grandpa,
I like ants in my p.j.s.
Do you wish you were a ball,
could roll and bounce off the walls with me?

I wish I was a builder
I'd build a house we'd decorate
With books and tickets, with money and dogs
With stickers and popsicle sticks.

On the ceiling we'll find thoughts
Drifting and changing like the day,
We'll lie on our backs and watch them
gather and carry our fears away.

We'll leave before we get dusty
We'll run and climb every tree
Maybe tomorrow we'll find some answers
Maybe tomorrow we'll leave.
Maybe tomorrow.

Where Beauty Comes From
Lying on our backs, somewhere
a guitar plays
we sing along, no words,
just a song all our own.

Sometimes the only thing moving
are your eyes,
to the beat of a drum.
What song do you see?
A darting bird? The sun's hello?
Where beauty comes from?

We flicker like fireflies, we shine
Stars to guide us above,
we all want to matter, just want
To be loved.

Breathe in and hold it
breathe out and let it go
Sometimes we've got to improvise,
just sing a song all our own.

sometimes I've got to back away
sometimes I need to hear you say
this with me

sometimes my life's
an uncertainty
but one day I'll make all
the difference, you will see
in the world
you will see

close your eyes now, imagine
how this world could spin
open them and tell me
where beauty comes from

breathe in
and hold it
breathe out...

- All poems by Julia Klatt Singer (2010)