I Never Had a Rose
"The Rose" by Sarah May (b. 1987)
SATB (div.) choir, a cappella
Available through manuscript and at Project: Encore
In 2005, a high school senior of mine at Boylan Central Catholic High School (Rockford, IL) Sarah May won her high school's fine arts poetry contest with her entry, "The Rose." Written in a traditional English sonnet form, the poem speaks of beauty through the timeless symbol of a rose. I was so moved by the poem that I asked her if I could set it for choir, and she agreed. I Never Had a Rose premiered in the spring of 2018 to a standing ovation.
Through-composed but with recurring familiar content, the piece winds its way through Ms. May's poem, exploring surprising key areas and various vocal textures.