for SATB choir and piano

Commissioned for the Santa Fe Desert Chorale’s 2019 Illuminations Summer Festival

Available in August, 2019. To be notified, let us know below.

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Josh Habermann and The Santa Fe Desert Chorale originally asked me to write an SATB arrangement of Two Falling Stars, the 3rd movement of my narrative TTBB cycle SONG OF SKY AND SEA: A Song of Realization. It was a wonderful experience to write that arrangement for them, and they sang it more beautifully than I could have ever imagined:

Following Two Falling Stars’ success with the ensemble, Josh asked me to write a new work for their celebration of Walt Whitman’s 200th birth centenary as well as local poets. He suggested I look at several wonderful poets from the southwest, leading to my discovery of the incendiary and brilliant poetry by Francisco Alarcón. His Canto blew me away with its lyrical language coupled with a profound understanding and sympathy for the immigrant experience.

While Francisco might not be alive to experience this piece–he died tragically of cancer in 2016 at the age of 61–I hope my setting of his incredible words will do them and the immigrants he supports justice.


Francisco X. Alarcón

guided by the scent of hope
to even meet up with strangers,
and arrive at yesterday and find
ourselves ashore, bathed in future

and to see in every face a door,
open and inviting us in
to find solace in memories
like bread and water, a bed, the sun

and spin each experience into a thread,
every moment, every dream, every tear,
and weave the great cloak
of the history of every sigh

and to run out, barefoot, into the year’s
first rains to embrace tenderness,
and offer shade, joy, strength, support
like solid, mountain oaks

and to flourish like tilled soil,
and to be anchor, oar, compass and sea,
and sing the wind’s true song
with one voice, in the face of silence—

we’ll only be free when every man
and woman, in every home, street,
every shade of the human race,
everywhere, is truly free

we’ll only be free when salmon 
return up wild rivers,
and buffaloes once again, like dark maps
roam the open prairies

we’ll only be free when abuse,
loneliness, hunger, alienation
aren’t words, but forgotten
rumors of a far, distant past

we’ll only be free when we become
little boys and girls once again
who squirm with joy as we explore
the marvels, the wonders of the universe

© Copyright 2019, Paul John Rudoi.  All Rights Reserved.