Insights into an Original SSAA Choral Work of Donald Patriquin: Songs of Innocence: On Poems of William Blake

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Canadian composer, conductor, pianist, and organist Donald Patriquin (b. 1938) is

best known for his choral folksong arrangements but is also a composer of many original

works. Songs of Innocence, which Patriquin

Canadian composer, conductor, pianist, and organist Donald Patriquin (b. 1938) is

best known for his choral folksong arrangements but is also a composer of many original

works. Songs of Innocence, which Patriquin calls “one of my very best choral works,”

exemplifies his approach to setting text to music and provides a rich opportunity for

understanding Patriquin’s method of selecting text, creating a kind of libretto out of the

available text, setting the text to music, and conceiving of and composing instrumental

parts equal in importance to the choral parts. Also evident in this work is his attention to

such elements as precise word painting, varied theoretical approaches, and a general

musical aesthetic that focuses on beauty. This quintessential composition provides

important insights into Patriquin’s personal artistry and his approach to composition.

Patriquin does not fit text to music; instead, all of the musical elements are generated out

of the textual nuances. Patriquin’s comments on the work and his process, gleaned from

extensive email correspondence and his attendance at the U.S. premiere of the work,

provide important insights that can inform conductors and singers of his music. The study

of this suite highlights Patriquin’s expert crafting of musical elements and the methodical

layering of elements he combines to tell the musical story. Pairing Patriquin’s email

correspondence with an in-depth look at Songs of Innocence reveals his overarching

compositional ideas and underlying musical motivations.