Lowell Dykstra

Vocal / Choral

Tussen wonderen (2022)
Een kort stuk voor SATB koor. De tekst is ontleend aan de laatste regel  uit A. den Doolaard’s boek De goden gaan naar huis: “We hebben tussen wonderen geleefd, maar we hebben ze niet begrepen.”

Technisch niet veeleisend en in een traditioneel idioom geschreven.
duration: ca. 2 ‘
not published

The Wanderer  – a little cantata – (March, 2022)
‘Song of the Wanderer’ is a poem that talks about Jose Rizal himself as a wanderer or traveler. In this poem, Rizal describes the loneliness of being a wanderer (reflecting on his return to the Philippines from Europe) and, after being away from his homeland for a long time, the heartbreak of being a stranger in the land of his birth.

poem by: Jose Rizal
instrumentation: mixed choir, bass/baritone solo and alto solo and wind quintet (fl, ob, cl, hrn & bassoon)
duration: ca. 13′
not published

Tijd (2021)
Dutch text: M. Vasalis (permission granted by publisher van Oorschot)
instrumentation: tenor and string trio (vl-vla-vc)
duration: ca. 5′
not published

The Sick Rose (2021)
On January 6, 2021 an armed and angry mob of Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill and clashed with police as Congress convened to validate Joe Biden’s presidential win. Five people were killed in the violence that ensued as pro-Trump protestors breached barricades and advanced into the halls of the Capitol building. The riot is an attack on Democracy. In William Blake’s “The sick rose” the heart of a rose is attacked by a ‘dark secret love’ and eventually destroyed. A striking similarity in my view, although I hope it won’t get that far.

text: William Blake
instrumentation: mixed choir
duration: 2’30”
not published

Psalms of Life (2020)
The texts look at life from various sides, such as: joy, love, quest for paradise and memories.

The poems are:
– The white peace (William Sharp)
– The life that I have – (Leo Marks)
– Eldorado – (Edgar Allen Poe)
– Come slowly – Eden! (Emily Dickinson)
– Music, when soft voices die (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
– Leisure (William Henry Davies)
– Joy (Sara Teasdale)

Psalms of Life are the outcome of two musical worlds: my background in popular music and the classical. Having grown up in the 60’s and 70’s my musical DNA was merely formed by pop music with a special focus on singer-song writers like Paul Simon and Don McClean along with the Beatles, Genesis and Yes. However, as of 1980 or so, my interest switched to classical music. The modern classical music at the time was dominated by the heritage of composers like Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio and the like. It was obvious to write music in that manner or at least to write music that was influenced by them. Deep down, however,  it felt unnatural to me and I was composing music which was not really heartfelt. (only in the late 90’s there is a slight tendency towards tonal music in my compositions as was the case of many more composers). Yet, somehow I was convinced that someday I would be writing music which showed my pop DNA in the modern classical style, an amalgation.  It is in these songs from Psalms of Life that I strongly feel I have achieved this.
Very obvious is the song ‘El dorado’ which I imagine could have been performed in a Western saloon in late 19th century America. Although not strictly tonal, the other songs are easy on the ears as well.

My next pieces might very well be in a different style, as I do not like to repeat myself (too much).

instrumentation: soprano and guitar
duration: ca. 12′
written for and dedicated to Channa Malkin (soprano) and Izhar Elias (guitar)
premiere: four of the seven songs October 3, 2021 Paleis van Justitie Leeuwarden
soon to be published by DONEMUS Amsterdam

La guitarra (2020)
The poem is by Federico García Lorca and describes the starting of the playing, the memories it evokes and the impossibility of stopping the guitar. One can characterise this piece as an evocation, combining passages that strongly lean against Andulisian flavour and its guitar repertoire, with comtemporary texture and idiom.

instrumentation: mixed choir and guitar
duration: ca. 9’30”
commissioned by and dedicated to Klaas de Jong
Published by DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Sudan – a lament (2019)
Sudan was the last male northern white rhino. His passing was in 2018 but it was only In September 2019 when I watched a documentary about him. Guarded by armed men against poachers, It was shocking and at the same time touching to see this giant, so tender and vulnerable in his last moments.

The text was made up of newspaper snippets:

his eye, a sad black dot in his massive, wrinkled face
a noble head of an old warrior
a majestic rectangle of strong bone
his armour battered
victim of futile human destructiveness
guarded by armed men who stand
vigilantly and caringly with him
the passing of the very last of something
soon vanished from the face of the earth
an image of brutality

instrumentation: 5 female voices
duration: ca. 2′
dedicated to the WWF
not published

Ritual text for the afterlife (2019)
Fascinating texts written on small gold tablets that were deposited in graves provide a unique source of information about what some Greeks and Romans believed regarding the fate that awaited them after death, and how they could influence it. Texts, dating from the late fifth century BCE to the second century CE.
The tablets belonged to those who had been initiated into the mysteries of Dionysus Bacchius and relied heavily upon myths narrated in poems ascribed to the mythical singer Orpheus.
The text I have used is from the cist- grave of a woman, around 400 BCE; now in the Museo Archeologico Statale di Vibo. The rectangular gold tablet, folded several times, was found lying on the upper chest of the skeleton and was perhaps attached to its neck by a tiny string.
Source: RITUAL TEXTS FOR THE AFTERLIFE Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets Fritz Graf and Sarah Iles Johnston (2007)

instrumentation: female voice and vibraphone
duration: ca. 4′
not published

Psalm voor Marijke Mooij (2017)
commissioned by Theatre company ‘Ûnder de toer’ as part of the theatre show ‘Marijke Mooij’
text: Bouke Oldenhof (Frisian text)
instrumentation: soprano and organ
duration: ca. 2′
premiere: November 2017 Grote Kerk, Leeuwarden
not published

O me! O life! (2016)
text: Walt Whitman
instrumentation: mixed choir and string quintet (two violins, viola, cello and double bass)
duration: ca. 12′
Dedicated to Fokko Oldenhuis
premiere: April 21, 2016 Oudshoornse kerk, Alphen a/d Rijn by Hollands Vocaal Ensemble conducted by Fokko Oldenhuis
published by DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Map into heraldry (2012)
text: Tony Conran
instrumentation: baritone, piano and bass drum
duration: ca. 1′ 10″
not published

Draaf, Foekje. Draaf! (2011)
commissioned by Stichting Calliope [The Calliope Foundation] at the request of Marten Postma (Soli Brass)
text: Bouke Oldenhof
instrumentation: foar brass band, koar en slachwurk (brass band GK4 timp 6perc)
duration: ca. 45′
premiere: September 9, 2011 by Ensemble Cantatrix and Soli Brass De Harmonie, Leeuwarden conducted by Frans-Aert Burghgraef

Stage design and footage was done by BUOG. (Bedenkers en Uitvoerders van Ongewone Gebeurtenissen – in English this would mean something like: Inventors and Performers of Unusual Events) Thanks to NOS-Sport television for supplying historical footage of Foekje Dillema . Showing this footage during performance is optional.
published by DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

La Neige – de “Les notes de’oreiller” (2010)
Translated into French, this is a fragment from The Pillow Book by the Japanese court lady Sei Shonagon who lived in the tenth century. The Pillow Book is her diary, which she secretly kept under her pillow during her years in court, containing a collection of lists, gossip, poetry and observations.

instrumentation: mixed choir and string quartet
duration: ca. 6′
premiere: June 25, 2011 Eure (Fr) by Tempo 144 and Le Quatuor de Mirmande
Published by DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Between, and I – fragments of Sappho (2007)
The text consists of 4 poems.
Sappho means mistery. Her life is a mystery and so is her poetry, which is even incomplete. Her poetry comes to us on papyrus only, in which there are many holes. So we only have fragments. But it’s exactly these holes that impresses our imagination. And it’s these holes that makes it exciting to read and at the same time, it offers space for a personal interpretation.

insrtrumentation: soprano and two harps
duration: ca. 7′ 30″
commissioned by Duo Billits with financial support from the ‘Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst’
premiere: January 12, 2007, Arnhem by Duo Billitis, Ekaterina Levental (who also sang) and Eva Tebbe
Publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Als de vogels (2006)
text: Arthur Japin
commissioned by VOCA Deventer
instrumentation: mixed choir and organ
duration: ca. 6′
premiere: March 19, 2006 Grote of Lebuïnuskerk’ Deventer(The Netherlands) by VOCA Deventer and organist Hans Steege conducted by Yt Nicolai
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Elegy for the Welsh dead in the Falklands 1982 (2005)
text: Tony Conran
instrumentation: tenor and cello
duration: ca. 9′
not published

A thin place – 3 prayers from the Carmina Gadelica (2002)
The texts come from a collection of prayers which Alexander Carmichael in 1832 was given permission for by local people living in remote areas in Scotland, to write down. “There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of something devine

insrtrumentation: mixed choir
the text is sung in Gaelic
duration: ca. 10′
commissioned by Studium Chorale with financial support of the ‘Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst’ and dedicated to Hans Leenders
premiere: September 21, 2002 during the festival Musica Sacra, Maastricht by Studium Chorale conducted by Hans Leenders
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

A thin place – Rann Romh Urnuigh (2001)
text: from the Carmina Gadelica
instrumentation: violoncello and the player’s voice
duration: ca. 5′ 30″
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Sailing to Byzantium (2000)
text: William Butler yeats
instrumentation: four male voices, altus, tenor, baritone and bass.
duration: ca. 5′
written for the Egidius Quartet
not published

About leaves (1998)
commissioned by COMPAM (Componisten voor Amateurmuziek)
text: on three Welsh poems, ‘Leaf’ – Gwyn Thomas, ‘Gathering leaves’ – William Crwys Williams – ‘Englynion’ – John Phillips (Tegidon)
translation: Tony Conran
instrumentation: women’s choir and guitar ensemble
duration: ca. 7′
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Youth and Age (1998)
commissioned by Maarten Koningsberger with financial support of the ‘Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst’
William Butler Yeats’ poetry is based on Irish nationalism, Celtic myth, politics, love, mystic and ageing. It’s the ageing aspect which runs through this cycle of 10 songs

insrtrumentation: baritone and piano
duration: ca. 21′
dedicated to Maarten Koningsberger
premiere: January 26, 2000 Orpheus, Apeldoorn by Maarten Koningsberger and Kelvin Grout
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Nightingales (1998)
text: Robert Bridges
instrumentation: mixed choir SSAATTBB
duration: ca. 6′
premiere:…… by the Nederlands Kamerkoor publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

The Whitsun Weddings (1996)
commissioned by and with financial support from the ‘Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst’

texts: Ph. Larkin (Whitsun weddings) and J. Davidson (London).
instrumentation: mixed choir
duration: ca. 14′ 30″
dedicated to Daniel Reuss and Vocaal Ensemble Utrechtse Studenten
premiere: ….. publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

A Trampwoman’s tragedy (after a Honeymoon time at an inn) (1995 -revision 1997)
text: Thomas Hardy
instrumentation: soprano, clarinet and piano
duration: ca. 20′
written for the Midas Ensemble – Clara de Vries, soprano, Gerard Zuyderhoff clarinet, Steven Faber piano.
premiere: …..
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Two Rossetti songs (1994)
commissioned by and with financial support from the ‘Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst’

text: The Woodspurge and Silent noon by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
instrumentation: mixed choir
duration: ca. 10′
dedicated to Daniel Reuss and Vocaal Ensemble Utrechtse Studenten
premiere: …..
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Butterfly (1990)
commissioned by Stichting het Velper Bach Ensemble

text: D.H.Lawrence
instrumentation: mixed choir and wind quintet
duration: ca. 8′
premiere: …..
publisher: DONEMUS Amsterdam preview/order

Works