Program Information for The Circling Universe

December 1, 2021 at 4 PM in Wallace Theater

The final presentation for the fall 2021 Princeton Atelier course ATL 498, “The Circling Universe”

Most music ©2021 Georgia Stitt
For choir and orchestra with three vocal soloists

Artistic Team

Directors: Blair Russell and Georgia Stitt
Music Director/Piano: Georgia Stitt
Conductor: Solon Snider
Lighting Designer: Matt Pilsner
Sound Designer: Kay Richardson
Projectionist: Torrey Drum
Stage Manager: Carmelita Becnel
Production Manager: Chloe Brown



Corners on the Curving Sky

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), USA or June Millicent Jordan (1936-2002), USA

Our earth is round, and, among other things
That means that you and I can hold
Completely different
Points of view and both be right.
The difference of our positions will show
Stars in your window
I cannot even imagine.
Your sky may burn with light,
While mine, at the same moment,
Spreads beautiful to darkness.
Still, we must choose how we separately corner
The circling universe of our experience.
Once chosen, our cornering will determine
The message of any star and darkness we encounter.


Part One: Invocation

Prelude: I Am One

Babatunde Olatunji (1927-2003), Nigeria

I am one with my father and the universe.
I am one with mother earth.
I am one with everyone within the reach of my voice.
And, in this togetherness, we ask the divine intelligence
to eradicate all negatives from our hearts, from our minds,
from our words, and from our actions.
And, so be it.

Soloist: Carrington Johnson

Come Again, Whoever You Are

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273), Persia

Come again, please, come again.
Whoever you are:
Worshiper, infidel, heretic, or pagan,
Come again.
This home of ours is not a home of hopelessness,
Even if you’ve repented one hundred times,
Come again.

Princeton Playhouse Choir, Solon Snider, conductor
Soprano Soloist: Lana Utley
Mezzo Soloist: Grace Zhao
Tenor Soloist: Matt Gancayco

Remind Me

Psalm 39: 4-7, 12, The Bible

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered –
How fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
At best, each of us is but a breath.
We are merely moving shadows,
And all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
Not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.
Rescue me.
Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears.
For I am your guest –
A traveler passing through,
As my ancestors were before me.
Remind me.

Soloist: Juliana Wojtenko


Part Two: Praise

For the Beauty of the Earth

Folliot Sandford Pierpoint (1835-1917), England

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee, we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye.
For the heart and brain’s delight.
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Princeton Playhouse Choir, Solon Snider, conductor
Film by: Jake Mayer and Clara Shin


A Shelter of Stars

Howard Schwartz (1945- ), Missouri, USA

We live
In a shelter of stars,
Our breath
One of many winds
Set free in this place.
We live
In a shelter of branches,
The roof a firmament of stars,
The cellar
A dark sea.
We live
In a shelter of song,
A tabernacle of peace,
Our breath as fragile and wild
As any wind.

Soloist: Halle Mitchell


Part Three: Darkness

Why Do We Pray?

Piano: Alexandra Buzzini
Soloist: Claudia Humphrey
Dancers/Choir Members: Theo Gross, Claudia Humphrey, Madeleine LeBeau, Julie Levey, Delaney McMahon, Halle Mitchell

Video Compiled and Edited by: Claudia Humphrey
Poem by: Jared Stone
Music Composed by: Alexandra Buzzini
Lyrics by: Alexandra Buzzini and Claudia Humphrey
Movement Choreography by: Jared Stone, Claudia Humphrey, Alexandra Buzzini


Part Four: Work

Let This Darkness Be A Belltower

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29,
Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Soloist: Grace Matthews
Violin: Naomi Frim-Abrams
Script Writers / Producers: Naomi Frim-Abrams, Grace Matthews, and Sam Clayman


Eagle Poem

Joy Harjo (b. 1951), Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma, US Poet Laureate

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

Soloist: Jenni Lawson


Part Five: Illumination

Joyful Noise

Psalm 100, The Bible

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God;
it is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
be thankful unto him; bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting
and his steadfast love endures for all generations.

Recorded by International Orange Chorale, Jeremy Faust, conductor


The World is Brimming with Beauty

Inspired by “Beauty Has Been Restored,” a daily Navajo prayer

Written, Composed, and Performed by: Leila Abou-Jaoude, Delaney McMahon, and Halle Mitchell


This is What Was Bequeathed Us

Gregory Orr, b. 1947, New York, US

This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.
No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.
That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.

Performed by ATL 498 Students and Faculty


Special Thanks

Jason Aylesworth, Jane Cox, Gabriel Crouch, Jill Dolan, Joseph Fonseca, Paul Muldoon, Steve Runk, Darryl S. Waskow, Schele Williams, Marion F. Young


Lewis Center for the Arts

Interim Chair: Michael Cadden
Executive Director: Marion Friedman Young

Director of the Princeton Atelier: Paul Muldoon

View a full list of Princeton Atelier Faculty and Guest Artists

For a look at all the people working behind the scenes to bring you this event, View a full list of LCA staff members  »

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