Shepherdess of Sadness
Review from The Choral Journal, April, 1996
Shepherdess of Sadnessis a lyric arrangement of a Mongolian folk song. Its Chinese text is a dialogue between a man and a woman calling to each other from nearby mountain tops. After an introductory section in which the basses imitate the "ch'in" or ancient Chinese zither, the men sing a unison melody accompanied by textless women's voices.
The pentatonic melody is set with lush harmonies in a relaxed tempo. Ranges are excellent for high school ensembles, with the only cause for concern being quite a few F#s in the bass part. A short section for divisi men may deter some conductors, but those demands are more than offset by the largely unison men's parts in the rest of the arrangement. The piano accompaniment is accessible to a student accompanist, and there is a very attractive obbligato flute part. Two sections for four-sharp key signatures, so the average high school flutist may be navigating some relatively unfamiliar accidentals. The Chinese text underlay is transliterated in Pinyin with an excellent English translation in the foreword. The pronunciation guide is clear and easy to interpret. High school and community choirs looking for Asian materials should be able to program Shepherdess of Sadness with much success.
Review by Michael E. Yachanin