Carmel Highlands


Shrouded in mystery, music and text slowly unfold in this impressionistic work for advanced women’s choir with prominent piano part. SSAA, piano.



Kallman Creates Publications, Composer Daniel Kallman Kallman Creates Publications

SSAA, piano. Duration: 6’00”


Aurora (first-year women’s choir) of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa; Sandra Peter conducting.



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Composer’s Notes

American novelist and poet Janet Lewis (1899-1998) penned Carmel Highlands in 1938, capturing her impressions of the enviable views from high above the dramatic and ever-changing Pacific coastline a few miles south of Carmel, California. My musical setting aims to capture the range of visual imagery and lyricism which I find so appealing in the poem. While the musical language is based in tonality, I make use of several devices to obscure the tonal centers in order to depict the mystery and timelessness of the ocean. These include augmented triads and seventh chords, shifting tonal centers, nuanced dynamics, and occasional references to whole tone scales and tone clusters. There are only subtle changes in the various tempi throughout the work, all of which are slow and sustained. However, within those pulses the music is allowed to become more rhapsodic and even ecstatic when the text calls for it. In addition, the piano is more than just an accompaniment to the voices, maintaining an equal role in providing music to enhance the carefully chosen words of Lewis’ poem. See text below.

Commissioned by the 2012 Women’s Choir Commission Consortium of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA); Iris S. Levine, National Repertoire and Standards Chair for Women’s Choruses.

Carmel Highlands

Below the gardens and the darkening pines
The living water sinks among the stones,
Sinking yet foaming till the snowy tones
Merge with the fog drawn landward in dim lines.
The cloud dissolves among the flowering vines,
And now the definite mountain-side disowns
The fluid world, the immeasurable zones.
Then white oblivion swallows all designs.
But still the rich confusion of the sea,
Unceasing voice, sombre and solacing,
Rises through veils of silence past the trees;
In restless repetition bound, yet free,
Wave after wave in deluge fresh releasing
An ancient speech, hushed in tremendous ease.

Text © 1938 Janet Loxley Lewis
Used by permission of Ohio University Press,

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