Everyone Sang: Century-old Poem Comes to Life Through Music
View The Video Here!
On June 4, 2022, the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus premiered an original musical composition by Becky Graber, “Everyone Sang,” on the wide sunny lawn of the Retreat Farm, in Brattleboro, VT.
Becky Graber is a composer, as well as the founder and director of the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus. This past winter, after over a year of Zoom singing, Ms. Graber had a big idea.
It all started with a poem written in 1919, by British soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon, just after the end of World War I.
Sassoon’s poem, “Everyone Sang,” speaks of music as a healing and uniting force, embracing both joy and grief.
“This poem of freedom-through-song evoked in me such a strong sense of joy, community, and mutual freedom. It also spoke to me of a trauma being healed. I fell in love with the poem,” Graber says.
Graber composed the music so that the poem could be sung by a chorus of female voices, accompanied by a string quartet.
“When I paged through my notebooks, I discovered that I’d already begun to set it to music. And so I dug in, and bit by bit, created first the vocal lines, and then string parts - because strings were the instruments it called for.”
With funding assistance from the Vermont Arts Council, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, Graber was able to fulfill her vision of creating a live concert performance of her musical interpretation of Siegfried Sassoon’s poem, plus a professionally-produced music video.
We all know that music invokes joy. Listen to a favorite song, and feel your body start to move; feel your mood start to shift in a happier direction. Also, music helps us get through hard times. And sometimes, music does both at once: invokes great joy, while soothing deep pain.
This juxtaposed blend, as expressed in a century-old poem, inspired Graber in creating her project. The fact that the song premiered in the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus’ first in-person concert since 2019 is not a coincidence.
Graber reflects, “I had always imagined that we would sing it (and we will!) when we could celebrate standing together, singing unmasked again. It worked out that when we premiered it we were wearing our masks to protect each other, but at least we could stand near each other again as we sang. And we could feel the freedom and joy of birds "winging wildly" as we “suddenly burst out singing” and share that feeling with our beloved audience members.”
As we continue to recover from the challenges of Covid, we can now gather together and revel in the joy and healing power of music – all together, on a sunny summer lawn.
“Everyone Sang” is featured in Becky Graber’s new song book, “All I Need Is Here,” which can now be purchased here!
Thank you to our string quartet: Kathy Andrew on Violin I, Michelle Liechti on Violin II, Gregory Diehl on Viola and Sabine Rhyne on cello.
You can view the music video of Becky Graber’s composition, “Everyone Sang," at: beckygraber.com and here!
Want to learn more about the making of the video? Check out the story and photos at Behind the Scenes of "Everyone Sang!"