Original version commissioned in 2009 by the Syracuse Children's Chorus, Dr. Barbara M. Tagg, Founder and Director Emeritus, to celebrate 29 years of artistic collaboration with pianist Alice Valentine.
"[The work] has a gentle ecstasy, refreshing and consoling."
– Robert Carl, composer and writer, Hartt School of Music Composition Chair
"This is a thoughtful, lyrical setting of an evocative text, and it was well received by both the chorus and the audience. There are several harmonic and metrical challenges, but well within reach of a college or reasonably skilled high school chorus."
– Allan Taylor, Westfield State University
Work is listed in the prestigious PROJECT : ENCORE database administered by Schola Cantorum on Hudson. With entries vetted by an international panel of prominent conductors, this acceptance represents a significant endorsement of quality as the project seeks to promote "beautiful, compelling, and powerful new works that have every right to be welcomed into standard performance repertory."
Work was awarded performance at the 2013 Westfield Festival of New Music, where it was performed (in the newer SATB version) by the Westfield State University Chorale, Allan Taylor conducting.
Original version scored for treble-voice choir was commissioned in 2009 by Dr. Barbara M. Tagg to celebrate the longtime collaboration of accompanist Alice Valentine with the Syracuse Children’s Chorus. Imagining further potential for the work, the composer revisited his score in 2012-13, adding voices and expanding sections to create versions for full choir (SATB divisi) and women's choir (SSAA).
Sunrise Along Shore by Christopher M. Lee is a new choral setting of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1901 poem depicting a slumbering harbor town and the adjacent sea at daybreak. Vivid descriptions of ocean and sky are set in fluid waves of melody that ebb and flow and grow more sweeping as the sun rises on the poet’s coastal scene. Further evocation of the sea is provided by the prominence of open-fifth harmony, first introduced in a repeating piano figure that pulses and laps across the opening measures with the rhythm of a calm morning surf. As with the earth’s oceans, the musical sound of an open fifth is fundamental to nature and possesses a timeless quality that evokes at once the ancient and the new. In this work, open-fifth intervals initiate main melodies, yield cascades of countermelody, and generally permeate the musical fabric.
Athwart the harbor lingers yet
The ashen gleam of breaking day,
And where the guardian cliffs are set
The noiseless shadows steal away;
But all the winnowed eastern sky
Is flushed with many a tender hue,
And spears of light are smiting through
The ranks where huddled sea-mists fly.
Across the ocean, wan and gray,
Gay fleets of golden ripples come,
For at the birth-hour of the day
The roistering, wayward winds are dumb.
The rocks that stretch to meet the tide
Are smitten with a ruddy glow,
And faint reflections come and go
Where fishing boats at anchor ride.
All life leaps out to greet the light --
The shining sea-gulls dive and soar,
The swallows whirl in dizzy flight,
And sandpeeps flit along the shore.
From every purple landward hill
The banners of the morning fly,
But on the headlands, dim and high,
The fishing hamlets slumber still.
One boat alone beyond the bar
Is sailing outward blithe and free,
To carry sturdy hearts afar
Across those wastes of sparkling sea;
Staunchly to seek what may be won
From out the treasures of the deep,
To toil for those at home who sleep
And be the first to greet the sun.
- Lucy Maud Montgomery (1901)
* Performed by the Newtown High School Chamber Choir (Newtown, CT), Jane Matson, director, with composer at the piano.