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In 2016 the Miami University Men’s Glee Club commissioned a work for tenor-bass chorus entitled Sayareh (2016), pronounced sah-yáh-reh, which means “earth” in Farsi. Runestad explains, “It feels ceremonial, it feels of the earth, it feels folk-like,” like “a ritual.” Although the title is Iranian, the sung text is not Farsi or any other language, but rather sounds used to suggest certain feelings or environments. At points throughout the piece, a tenor soloist leads the group like a storyteller or perhaps a religious figure. Because there are no words, however, Runestad intentionally leaves the meaning of the piece open to each listener’s interpretation.
Program note by by Leah G. Weinberg, Ph.D.
Please credit this writer in all uses of this program note.