Hinshaw Music, 2011

Full audio available on iTunes. Norwegian pronunciation recording available here.

Setting of evocative text by Charles Anthony Silvestri, who writes:

“This poem was commissioned by Tracy Resseguie for Composer Dan Forrest, to commemorate the life of Tracy’s grandfather, Peter Mandius Nerland, who immigrated from Finnoy Island, Norway, to rural Iowa in 1899.  I was asked to create a text honoring that voyage, for the composer Dan Forrest to set for mixed choir.  In the process of writing this poem I researched Mr. Nerland’s history, studying immigration and census records.  In my research I was able to see his WWI draft card, in which was indicated that his eyes were grey.  I took that as a hook, and away I went.  Along the way I learned a tiny bit or Norwegian, with the help of my friend Bjørn Fredrik Meyer in Oslo.  Dan’s setting is magnificent.”

The music, for a cappella SATB choir, paints all sorts of word pictures, from the spray of the ocean waves, to the rocking of the ship, to the grey Norwegian coastline. After being premiered in Kansas City, MO, USA, the piece’s commissioner, Tracy Resseguie, prepared his choir for a tour of Norway in 2011. His plan was to visit the home village of his grandfather on Finnoy Island and perform the work there.  Little did he know, the villagers were almost all related to him, and have kept the memory of their emigrated brother alive for over a century! It was a moving experience for all as he and his choir performed in the little village church, and eventually visited Mr. Nerland’s home, which still stands. After a successful tour all over Norway, Resseguie returned to the US having gained special permission from the US Federal Government, through his state senator, to perform Over Havet in the Great Hall of Ellis Island itself (which is virtually unheard of). There, in the Great Hall, surrounded by hundreds of people, the choir sang these words, huddled under the shadow of Liberty:



Over Havet (Across The Sea)

©2008 Charles Anthony Silvestri

My eyes look out,
Grey as the grey North-Sky,
Across the sea,
The sea of hope and opportunity.
The wander-lust of my people wells up,
Calling me to go–
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the beckoning sea. Over det lokkende havet.

In this great ship-belly I wait,
With others like me
Set out to make a better life.
And now we stand together, line by line,
Masses huddled in the shadow of Liberty.
We’ve come so far
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the storm-tossed sea. Over det stormfulle havet.

Work is hard in this New World,
As hard as in the Old;
But this land I work is soon to be my own–
A farm, a house, a wife, a child–
Fields of grain stretched out before me;
My home
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the amber sea. Over det ravgule havet.

My eyes look out,
Grey as my grey hair now,
Across the sea,
From poverty and possibility
To the richest blessings a man can ever know,
Thankful now as I go,
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the sea, Over havet,
Across the eternal sea. Over det evige havet.


Tags: American, Professional/Collegiate Repertoire, Silvestri