Amram, David. A YEAR IN OUR LAND, CANTATA, SATB Soli, Mixed Chorus, Orchestra. New York: C. F. Peters Corporation, 1977. Edition Peters 66054. 29.6 cm, 67 pages. Vocal score. This copy signed, inscribed and dated: “For David Randolph with a music filled 1987 and many HALLELUJAS! David Amram”.
The composer created a secular cantata, using texts by James Baldwin, John Dos Passos, Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe, and Walt Whitman, respectively: “Prologue,” text from Another Country; I. “Spring in the East,” text from Manhattan Transfer; II. “Summer in the West,” text from Lonesome Traveler; III. “Autumn in the North,” text from Travels with Charley; IV. “Winter in the South,” text from The Web and the Rock; and, “Epilogue,” text from Leaves of Grass. The dedicatee was the founder and long-term conductor and musical director of the Santa Cecilia Chorus.
Reviewed by the New York Herald Tribune, Friday, on May 14, 1965:
“About a year ago the Interracial Chorale commissioned the versatile young composer David Amram to write a cantata for its 1965 spring concert. The concert took place last night In Town Hall, and Mr. Amram’ piece, “A Year in Our Land,” was given Its premiere by the Interracial Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Harold Aks.
It is a beautiful work. Mr. Amram’s score celebrates the four seasons as they appear in four different parts of America. For text he has gone to the writings of James Baldwin, John Dos Passos, Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe and Walt Whitman, using excerpts from their prose to comment on “Spring in the East,” “Summer in the West,” “Autumn In the North,” and “Winter in the South.”
Soloists alternate with chorus in warm, wistful vignettes of life in a less troubled time. Mr. Amram admits his portrait is more “a dream of what I hope America will become than what it is.” Even so, its tranquility, Its Copland-like cleanliness is most welcome, and last night’s audience greeted the 34-Year-old composer with cheers and long applause.
The 60-voice chorus with orchestra gave a splendid performance, assisted by four first-rate soloists: Lynn Blair, soprano; Elaine Bonazzi, contralto: Seth McCoy, tenor and Herbert Beattie, bass.” Condition is fine.