Jabberwocky for mixed chorusPrairie High Concert Chorale
Text by Lewis Carroll
Peter Westphalen and Cheri Brummer, directors
ca. 10 minutes
I first read Jabberwocky when I was in fifth grade. The surreal language of the poem grabbed my attention and has held it ever since. Lewis Carroll’s use of sound to create words that are immediately evocative, while leaving their meanings entirely up to the reader, allows his listeners to create a new realm of their own imagination. When I sat down to write my setting of the poem, I decided to take the words apart and create a sonic backdrop from the individual consonants. In the book, Alice first encounters the poem and is completely bewildered, because it is a mirror poem—written entirely backwards. Of course, as she notes, it does not make much more sense forward either. Using that idea to add an even more otherworldly quality to my setting, I have a soloist sing the first part of the poem backwards, before the choir enters singing it the (supposedly) right way. Carroll beautifully balances the poem by repeating its first stanza at the end, which I mirror in my setting, allowing the reader/listener to imagine even more fantastic adventures.