Breath of Ecstasy
Each of the movements of For a Breath of Ecstasy chronicles Teasdale’s search for solace amidst life’s many storms. The tapestry of different vocal forces set against the backdrop of Oboe and Strings reveals moments of yearning, love, joy, and peace. Vivid imagery portrays transcendent moments of solace that are revealed in an individual’s relationship to nature and in love. This work draws texts from Love Songs, the anthology of celebrated American poet, Sara Teasdale (18841933), and was commissioned to celebrate the centennial of her winning the first Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1918. -Michael John Trotta Duration: 30:27

1. Wealth Enough For Me
I have no riches but my thoughts,
Yet these are wealth enough for me;
My thoughts of you are golden coins
Stamped in the mint of memory;

And I must spend them all in song,
For thoughts, as well as gold, must be
Left on the hither side of death
To gain their immortality.
2. Peace Flows into Me
Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It will not ebb like the sea.

I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies—
You are my deepening skies;
Give me your stars to hold.
3. Who Gave My Soul to Me
I gave my first love laughter,
I gave my second tears,
I gave my third love silence
Through all the years.

My first love gave me singing,
My second eyes to see,
But oh, it was my third love
Who gave my soul to me.
4. For You I Am Still
I sang my songs for the rest,
For you I am still;
The tree of my song is bare
On its shining hill.

For you came like a lordly wind,
And the leaves were whirled
Far as forgotten things
Past the rim of the world. 

The tree of my song stands bare
Against the blue —
I gave my songs to the rest,
Myself to you.
5. Spend All You Have on Loveliness
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,

And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be
6. And I For You
The moon is a curving flower of gold,
The sky is still and blue;
The moon was made for the sky to hold,
And I for you;

The moon is a flower without a stem,
The sky is luminous;
Eternity was made for them,
To-night for us.
7. Let Me Love
Until I lose my soul and lie
Blind to the beauty of the earth,
Deaf though shouting wind goes by,
Dumb in a storm of mirth;

Until my heart is quenched at length
And I have left the land of men,
Oh, let me love with all my strength
Careless if I am loved again.

Commissioned by Northwestern Louisiana State University
Nicholaus B. Cummins, Director of Choral Activities
Premiere Winter 2017.

Breath of Ecstasy – Michael John Trotta

Wealth Enough For Me (from For a Breath of Ecstasy)

This first movement from "For A Breath of Ecstasy" has accessible choral parts and a very active accompaniment, perhaps representing the "my thoughts" part of the text. A contrasting middle section ("With Wonder") still retains a certain rhythmic pulse, before the return of the opening material. The movement ends with the touchstone phrase, "I must spend them all in song." Duration: 4:49 Oboe part included.

Peace Flows Into Me (from For a Breath of Ecstasy)

This second movement from "For a Breath of Ecstasy," is a cappella except for a short introduction and coda. The texture is SATB with a soprano descant in the first and last sections. The middle section ("piu mosso") is underlayed with a rhythmic motive in the men's parts which pulses below the more flowing women's parts. After the middle section builds to a strong emotional declamation ("they are all fulfilled in you,") The beginning material returns. Duration: 4:44 Oboe part included.

Who Gave My Soul to Me (from For a Breath of Ecstasy)

The third movement from "For a Breath of Ectasy" is set for TTBB Chorus, oboe, and string quartet or piano. After a calm start, a rhythmic motive begins in the bass clef of the accompaniment during the introduction and intensifies as the singers enter with the first statement of the text. There is an instrumental interlude, a recap of the entire text, and a coda. he choral writing is approachable, often beginning in unison, moving to two part and then to four parts for the last phrase and cadence. Duration: 4:35 Oboe part included.

For You I Am Still (from For a Breath of Ecstasy)

In this fourth movement from For a Breath of Ecstasy, the instrumental introduction leads to a completely a cappella setting of this Sara Teasdale text. This movement is slow, lyrical and hymn like. Lovely vocal lines wrap around each other and create some absolutely stunning harmonies. A wonderful piece to explore the full range of choral dynamics. There is some divisi in the soprano, and the oboe part is included in the score.

Spend All You Have on Loveliness (from For a Breath of Ecstasy)

Beautiful harmonic shifts and interesting voice leading make the this lovely piece for women's choir with oboe obbligato come alive. "Spend all you have on loveliness and never count the cost, for one white hour of singing peace counts years of strife well lost..."

And I for You (from For a Breath of Ecstasy)

This is the sixth movement of "For a Breath of Ectasy." Scored for SATB chorus, oboe, and string quartet or piano, the music is romantic and beautifully paints images found in the text: "The moon is a curving flower of gold." he accompaniment is lush and the choral writing is homophonic, with the sopranos only occasionally dividing. Duration: 3:12 Oboe part included.

Let Me Love (from For a Breath of Ecstasy)

The final movement from "For a Breath of Ectasy" begins rhythmically as the first movement did. In fact, the writing touches on moods and motives in many of the other six movements, although the text here is a different poem. Yet the movement stands perfectly well on its own, and the poem is sublime: "Oh, let me love with all my strength, careless if I am loved again." Duration: 4:14 Oboe part included.