CREATION

Dan Forrest unfolds a spectacularly sweeping score in CREATION, his newest and most expansive work to date. Written on the 225th anniversary of Haydn’s similarly-themed masterpiece, this 72-minute oratorio explores the wonders of our planet through a dazzling variety of musical expressions for chorus, orchestra, and soprano and baritone soloists.

Dr. Forrest writes, “…It seems like there’s only one great Creation oratorio, and it’s from the 18th century. It’s terrifying and presumptuous to say ‘I want to write a 21st century version alongside Haydn’s’; but I wanted to capture the beauty of life on this planet, and the wonder of its origin, in my own musical language. In a sense, it’s a score to my own mental Planet Earth film – of beauty that I’ve encountered both at home and in my travels abroad. I hope this work overwhelms its listener with the wonder and joy that still shines through in our world.”

Premiere Performance: November 4-5, 2023, Wayne Oratorio Society, Philadelphia, PA.


Sheet Music

CREATION Choral Score Now available!

REHEARSAL TRACKS (part-dominant and balanced mixes) Now available!

RENTAL SCORES/PARTS for performance (Full Orchestra Feb 2024; Small Orchestra or Chamber Ensemble scorings Summer 2024)

FULL SCORES for separate purchase (Full Orchestra Feb 2024; Small Orchestra or Chamber Ensemble Summer 2024)

ORGAN PART for separate purchase (for use with Small Orchestra or Chamber Ensemble versions) Available Summer 2024

Designed as a symphonic masterwork, the scoring nevertheless keeps choral parts accessible by sharing the load with two soloists, using only reasonable divisi, remaining consistent in repeated sections, and making significant use of reprises and refrains to limit the total amount of material to be learned. The available Rehearsal Tracks also greatly aid learning the choral parts. The work is designed to be performed without intermission, but can be performed in two halves if necessary.


Free Downloads

CREATION Texts and Program Notes: We strongly recommend printing interwoven texts and program notes in concert programs whenever possible, to help the audience engage with the work’s text, narrative, and musical material. This download includes a PDF (8.5×11 inch) as well as Word and Pages documents that can be reformatted as needed for use in your concert program.

CREATION Texts and Program Notes (PDF, Word, Pages)

CREATION Press Kit: Includes the CREATION image in various file formats. May be freely used in creating concert programs, posters, advertising, etc.

CREATION Images Press Kit

CREATION Slides: 14 JPG images: pre-show, all 12 movements, and post-show, to help your audience engage with the visual art and its meaning. (Also helpful for audiences to know which movement they’re hearing, since several movements are continuous without a pause in between.) Available in HD or 4K resolution.

CREATION Slides - HD ResolutionCREATION Slides - 4K Resolution

Festival Performances

NY Premiere, Lincoln Center (Geffen Hall), April 8, 2024, conducted by Dr. Warren Cook, with the composer present. Festival Performance, open to singers and choirs to join! Contact Manhattan Concert Productions for more information.

– Rivertree Singers and Friends Festival (Greenville, SC), June 8, 2024, conducted by Dr. Warren Cook, with the composer present. See Rivertree Singers website for more information or register for the festival.

-Festival performance in Fort Lauderdale, FL (at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church) with Dr. Pearl Shangkuan conducting and composer present, January 2025.

London/Cambridge Premiere mid/late June 2025 with Vox Anima London, in iconic Ely Cathedral, with Dr. James Meaders conducting; with composer present and hosting the first international Ness Beck Composers’ Workshop in the days leading up to the festival.


Instrumentation

Full Orchestra Version: 

(Can be performed with as little as 2.2.2.2, 2.2.2.2, 3 Perc, Keyboard, Harp, Strings)

Fl 1, 2 (doubling on Piccolo, Alto Flute, and Soprano Tin Whistles in C and D)
Oboe 1, 2 (one doubling on English Horn if Duduk not available)
Duduk (optional, movements 2, 3, 7)
Bb Clarinet 1, 2
Bassoon 1, 2

Horns (2 or 4 depending on size of choir)
Bb Trumpet 1, 2
Trombone 1, 2
Bass Trombone, Tuba

Percussion (3 players); Extra Percussion (optional): three choir members may play handheld percussion (Cabasa, Guiro, and Cowbell) in movements 4 and 12. 

Digital Keyboard (uses standard available sounds, movements 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12)

Handbell Ensemble (optional) (8-9 players, in movements 1, 3, 7, 10, 12)

Guitar (optional) (in movements 4 and 12)

Harp

Strings (larger ensembles recommended with larger choruses)

Soprano Soloist, Baritone Soloist, SATB Chorus

Small Orchestra Version:

(Organ with String orchestra and 7-9 other players):  Organ, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Percussion (3 if possible), Digital Keyboard, Harp, Strings. 

Chamber Version:

(Organ with 9-11 other players):  Organ, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Percussion (3 if possible), Digital Keyboard, Harp, Solo Violin, Solo Cello. 


Program Notes

Written for the 75th anniversary of the Wayne Oratorio Society (Philadelphia), Dan Forrest’s CREATION honors the 225th anniversary of Haydn’s similarly titled masterpiece. This 72- minute work for chorus and orchestra is less a strict narrative, and more a celebration of the wonders and beauties of our world, using a variety of ancient texts as thematic commentary.

I. Introit ushers the listener into a mysterious world before the dawn of time, as chants of Veni, Creator Spiritus arise and are mixed with the introduction of key musical themes for the entire work.

II. The Dance Before Time begins without pause, with the “spirit moving upon the face of the waters.” A mezzo-soprano solo begins the narrative, “in principio Deus” amidst swirls of themes from this movement and the previous one, and creative energy builds, waiting to be unleashed.

III. The Lion Sings alludes to a well-known Lion in famous English children’s literature, who sang a world into existence. A well-read listener will hear every musical detail from that story happening, from the baritone soloist singing the Lion’s song, to the sun bursting into light, the unfurling of all green things, and eventually all animals coming to life in a raucous barndance celebrating the joy of all creation.
We then encounter several tableaus, one for each day of creation. Each sets unique text as commentary on its beauty, inspired by various experiences from the composer’s travels.

IV. Light, inspired by countless sunrises, sets Scriptural text “I am the light of the world; who follows me shall have the light of life” as an exuberant dance in asymmetrical meter. The initial melody from the Introit is then heard with as a coda with new text combining “…and God saw that it was good” from Genesis with words from the Song of Solomon – a love song to an unspoiled creation: “wholly beautiful are you, entirely, and there is no stain in you.” This refrain repeats throughout the work, after each day of creation in its own musical style.

V. Sky is inspired by the expanse of the open sky. As the first tribute to Haydn, melodic themes from his The Heavens Are Telling are interwoven (in slow motion) with modern harmonization and new material throughout this movement.

VI. The Garden is an expression of the composer’s love of various gardens in the world, from New York (Central Park) to Singapore (Botanical Gardens) to his own #forrestgardens. This setting reimagines the meaning of sacred texts to express the priceless beauty of green spaces; the Locus Iste here refers not to a cathedral, but to the sacred sanctuary of a garden. The music slowly twines around itself, almost like time-lapse photography of plants unfolding shoots and leaves.

VII. Music of the Spheres invokes the concept of “musica universalis”- the “music of the heavens” that the ancients believed was created by the orderly and proportional motion of the stars and planets in space, as well as “vox caelestis” – the “voice of the heavens” that speaks in the night sky. The Sanctus text is set here as a four-part mensuration canon, where each melodic subject entrance is twice as slow as the previous one; eventually we hear the same melodic line at four different speeds simultaneously, picturing the clock-like precision of the stars and planetsmoving through space.

VIII. Wings represents the “flying creatures” portion of day five, with text from the Psalms. The music begins delicately, like a newly hatched butterfly first unfolding its wings and fanning them, then gradually builds to the moment where it bursts into flight and is carried on the wind until it disappears from sight. The main melodic ostinato in the accompaniment of this movement is an example of augenmusik – music for the eyes- where the musical page looks like the ideas being described: its instrumental melodic contour outlines the line-drawn shape of a bird in flight.

IX. Deep Blue then turns to the “deep sea” portion of day five, with liturgical text “I saw water flowing…”. The mysteries of the deep are invoked with low thick textures and constantly flowing water and waves. Eventually, “Alleluias” arise from the depths, like a whale breaching the surface of the ocean.

X. Ish Ishah was inspired by Michelangelo’s famous painting The Creation of Adam. Its finger of God reaching to humanity was quite possibly inspired by the Veni Creator Spiritus text (heard earlier in this work), in the stanza sung here: “Finger of God’s right hand…kindle your light in our minds, infuse love in our hearts.” Many believe that the primary character visible on God’s arm in the painting is Eve; her face as she strains for a look at Adam reflects the first stirring of human love, with all its wonder and complexity – the moment God “infuses love into our hearts.” The Hebrew words Ish Ishah are taken from the Genesis narrative, representing man and woman, and this setting presents humanity as the pinnacle of all creation, not merely in their intellect or the beauty of their form, but in their capacity to love.

XI. Do It Again is a musical underscore for narration from two of the composer’s favorite passages of writing about this earth: one from English philosopher G.K. Chesterton and one from environmental advocate John Muir. The music reprises a theme introduced in the Introit but not heard again until now (thus musically picturing the sense of “do it again”).

XII. Boundless unleashes a torrent of musical themes, all piling on top of each other, in a finale celebrating the diversity yet wholeness of all creation. The title refers both to the limitless joy found within the movement as well as the seemingly limitless number of themes (from within this work and beyond) which all tumble together. Amidst all this celebration, a fugue breaks out. Marked “Homage to FJH”, it uses thematic material from this work’s Credo within the formal and harmonic structure of Haydn’s beloved Awake the Harp. Eventually all possible themes and subjects are recapitulated in a celebration whose joy can only be described as boundless.

Cover design: the circle shape and the complete color spectrum represent the diversity yet wholeness and interconnectedness of all creation. The line drawings represent (clockwise) the themes of creation as presented in the work: Light, Sky, Garden, Spheres, Wings and Deep Blue (note that these lines both have double meanings: waves of the ocean and fish scales, and interlocking bird shapes that also evoke clouds/sky), and lastly, Ish Ishah (humanity) represented by double helixes. All these lines flow together in one interdependent whole, as does creation.


Version History

(Original Printing states “1st ed.” at bottom of Contents page.)

Edition 1.1

Mvmt 6 The Garden:

  • Main tempo is now 50-52 instead of 56, but eliminated “slower” in middle section and closing refrain.
  • Eliminated ties across downbeats (now cut off on downbeats): mm. 10, 15, 20, 25; also mm. 44, 49, 54, 59.
  • Changed phrase shape to one-bar swells in both verses instead of two-bar; changed tenutos to mid-measure instead of downbeats.
  • Refrain no longer has tenutos- conductors can decide whether to emphasize downbeats or swell to middle of each bar.
  • Changed Verse 2 to mf instead of mp, for better variety.

Mvmt 12 Boundless:

  • m.229 Piano LH beat 1,  A octave not G octave

 

Edition 2.0 (forthcoming):

Front Matter:

  • Digital Keyboard plays in movement 5 as well (missing previously)
  • Percussion list includes Small Jingle Bells and Finger Cymbal (missing previously), and order of perc. instruments is now more intuitive/consistent with other scores.
  • Choir members play percussion in movements 4 and 12, not 3 and 12.

Notation details:

  • p10 missing abbreviated staff name B.
  • p65 added abbrev. staff name A, second system.
  • p128 fixed lyric collision m103 basses
  • p129 fixed stray SA ff dynamic
  • XII. m127 soprano stems (and flag) up on “te” and “hor”

Piano Reduction fixes:

  • II. 8, RH G instead of 16h rest; 97 Piano RH lowest note (three times) should be Eb not Fb.
  • III. m40 Piano harmony fixed (Bb not Daug/A.)
  • XII. m124 Piano LH quarter rests should be notated as two eighth rests