Return to Chorus Works
Return to Orchestral Works
Return to Works

Gwendolyn Brooks Settings (2020)

For Treble Chorus and Orchestra
Text by Gwendolyn Brooks

2(2 dbl. pic.).2.2.1/ perc. strings
World premiere by Anima – Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, The chorus of Chicago High School for the Arts, and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Stilian Kirov, conducting, Evan Bruno Artistic Director of Anima, 16 March 2024.
Duration: 30 minutes

Co-commissioned by Anima – Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.

Treble Chorus can be comprised of a mix of adult sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, altos, with youth girl and boy sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, and altos.

This commission and associated activities are partially supported by a 2019 grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and Illinois Humanities.

Informal reference recording is available for private listening. If you would like to review the recording please Contact Augusta Read Thomas.




Reprinted By Consent of Brooks Permissions.


I shall create! [1]
Each body has its art...[2]



I put a seed into the ground
And said, “I’ll watch it grow.”
I watered it and cared for it
As well as I could know.

One day I walked in my back yard,
And oh, what did I see!
My seed had popped itself right out,
Without consulting me.

Live in the along. [3]:

To be in love
Is to touch things with a lighter hand. [4]:


Cynthia in
The Snow

It hushes
The loudness in the road.
It flitter-twitters,
And laughs away from me.
It laughs a lovely whiteness,
And whitely whirs away,
To be
Some otherwhere,
Still white as milk or shirts.
So beautiful it hurts.

If you wanted a poem you only need to look out of a window. [5]:

Poetry is life distilled. [6]:

If you wanted a poem you only need to look out of a window.  Reprise [7]:

Live in the along.  Reprise

Your sky may burn with light,
While mine,
Spreads beautiful to darkness. [8]:


Robert, Who is Often
a Stranger to Himself

Do you ever look in the looking-glass
And see a stranger there?
A child you know and do not know,
Wearing what you wear?

Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies.
And be it gash or gold it will not come
Again [9]:


From De Koven
I’d keep you with me always.
You’d shine both night and day.


Mexie and Bridie

A tiny tea-party
Is happening today.
Pink cakes, and nuts and bon-bons on
A tiny, shiny tray.

It’s out within the weather,
Beneath the clouds and sun.
And pausing ants have peeked upon,
As birds and God have done.

Mexie’s in her white dress,
And Bridie’s in her brown.
There are no finer Ladies
Tea-ing in the town.

Live in the along.  reprise

We are each other's magnitude and bond. [10]:


From De Koven
night and day


Marie Lucille

That clock is ticking
Me away!
The me that only
Ate peanuts, jam and
Is gone already.
And this is
‘Cause nothing’s putting
Back, each day,
The me that clock is
Ticking away.


The Admiration
of Willie

Grown folks are wise
About tying ties
And baking cakes
And chasing aches,
Building walls
And finding balls
And making planes
And cars and trains –
And kissing children into bed
After their prayers are said.


From De Koven
Shine Star Shine!

Reprinted By Consent of Brooks Permissions.

1. Boy Breaking Glass
2. Quote
3. Report From Part One
4. To Be In Love
5. The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks
6. Poetry Is Life Distilled, biography of Gwendolyn Brooks by Christine M. Hill
7. Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward (Among them Nora and Henry III)
8. Corners on the Curving Sky
9. Annie Allen
10. Published in “Family Pictures” (1971)

Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

Anima – Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus and their Director Charles Sundquist

Dr. Charles Sundquist, Artistic Director, Anima – Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus

Stilian Kirov

Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra

To obtain examination or performance material for this
Augusta Read Thomas work, please contact Nimbus Music Publishing.