Listen: Psalm 148

An archival recording of the world premiere, performed by the Combined Choirs of Wheaton Academy under the direction of Joel Visker.

For information on performing this work or obtaining a perusal score, please contact SDG.

 

ABOUT THE COMPOSER

William David Cooper is a composer, conductor, and organist, whose music has been performed by Liza Stepanova, Augustin Hadelich, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Scharoun Ensemble, the JACK Quartet, ECCE Ensemble, and the Lysander Trio. Cooper has received ASCAP Morton Gould awards in 2004 and 2007, the 2012 Leo Kaplan Award (the highest prize awarded in the ASCAP Morton Gould awards), and is a recipient of a music award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2014).

Cooper studied with Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser at the Juilliard School, and is a PhD candidate at UC Davis, where he studies with Kurt Rohde, Ross Bauer and Pablo Ortiz. Cooper has served on faculty at Purdue University and the Interlochen Arts Camp. A passionate devotee of early music, he has served as the director of the UC Davis Early Music Ensemble since the fall of 2012, and is currently director of music and organist at the Episcopal Church of St. Martin in Davis, California. 

For a complete biography, visit William Cooper's website.

Psalm 148

William David Cooper

William David Cooper
Psalm 148
Mixed chorus (SATB) and piano
DURATION: 11 minutes
TEXT: Psalm 148
A litany of praise in quasi sonata form, moving from jubilation to tranquility to triumph. Written for high-school age choirs.

 

 

 

 

World Premiere
May 2, 2014
Combined Choirs of Wheaton Academy
Joel Visker, director
Wheaton Academy
Wheaton, Illinois

 

When William David Cooper was commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria to write a choral work in memory of Marjorie Gieser, wife of SDG’s Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Richard G. Gieser, Cooper chose Psalm 148 for several reasons.

 

“As I began to read the text in several translations, I was immediately struck by the variety of beautiful imagery it contained. The Psalm has a clear three-part structure. The first part entreats the heavenly powers—heavens, heights, angels, hosts, stars, waters above the heaven—to praise God. The second part implores earthly entities to praise God; this includes fire and hail, fruit trees, cedars, stormy winds, kings, princes, young men, maidens, old men and children, and, my personal favorite, “sea monsters and all deeps.” The third part is entirely different in character. Whereas the first two parts deal mostly with the cosmic and sublime, the third part is a personal and intimate expression of gratitude to God for his faithfulness.

“I was so struck by the third part of the Psalm that I decided to make it a recurring strain in my setting. My aim was to create a dramatic and compelling narrative that does justice to the vivid imagery of the text and clearly articulates the meaning of the Psalm: the glory of God’s earthly and heavenly creation and the trustworthiness of his promises.”

 

Wheaton Academy Combined Choirs
 Wheaton Academy Combined Choirs performing the world premiere of Psalm 148

 

In the months leading up to the world premiere of Psalm 148, composer Cooper was in residence at the Academy on two separate occasions, working first-hand with the young musicians to understand the musical aspects and spiritual themes of the piece in preparation for the performance. The premiere took place on May 2, 2014, as part of the annual 2014 Spring Choral Concert at the Wheaton Academy, in their beautiful Fine Arts Center. The musicians included the Academy’s combined choirs—Concert Choir, Men’s Ensemble, Kantorei, and Women’s Chorale—accompanied by the composer and conducted by Joel Visker, Choral Music Director.