Poster Tina Davidson
Composer Tina Davidson presents ‘Hymn of the Universe.’
New Classical Tracks®

Tina Davidson connects with family, life and nature on 'Hymn of the Universe'

New Classical Tracks (Extended Interview) - Tina Davidson
New Classical Tracks - Tina Davidson
New Classical Tracks - January 17, 2024

Tina Davidson/VocalEssence/Philip Brunelle/Society for Universal Sacred Music/Roger Davidson – Hymn of the Universe (Meyer Media LLC)

“I didn't grow up with any aspirations of being a composer,” Tina Davidson says. “I didn't actually know that women could compose. It never occurred to me. So when I went to Bennington College, they actually believed that all performers, and I was a good pianist at that point, should be composers and all composers should be performers. So they threw me into a composition class, and I would say that after one semester I was completely hooked.”

Davidson was born in Sweden. She lived with a Swedish foster family until she was about 3. That’s when an American English professor adopted her. She shares this story in her recent memoir, where she also explains how this dramatic life change is connected to her recent recording, Hymn of the Universe, with VocalEssence.

“So when I was 21, I happened to be back in Sweden babysitting for the summer. I decided I would just go to the adoption agency. I thought, ‘Why not?’ I sort of wanted to find out if I was that little Swedish girl. And when I got there they told me, ‘Your adopted mother is your biological mother.’

“It was such a shock to know that I had been living under this assumption, not knowing where I came from, but that wasn't actually true. I had been living with my mother. So I think that was also one of the reasons that I wanted to write music. It was a way of me talking about my life and exploring my life, but being very private about it.

“I think that composing has always been a vehicle for me to understand myself and to grow through that understanding. It's sort of like I'm the template and I'm trying to explore my connection to family, to life, to nature. And especially in this this album, what is my connection to larger things like spiritual connections?”

Many of the pieces on this album were recorded many years ago. Why pull them all together now?

“The genesis of the pieces happened when I was in Kansas City, an ensemble was playing a piece of mine. I was staying at the house of a Kansas City Symphony board member because I think a piece of mine was being played by the symphony orchestra, too. And the board member was an executive, but she had been a former nun and she said, ‘I think you should read the books of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and I think you should write a piece about them.’

“And I started to really resonate with his sense that we are all evolving. He was such an interesting Catholic priest. He was a Jesuit, and they're always very interesting and they always they seem to think outside of the box.

“And so I just became really smitten by his idea that we are constantly evolving and that we're sort of evolving towards God. That sense that we're evolving to a higher place is very resonant for me. And so I excerpted texts from three of his works and created this piece, Hymn of the Universe.”

Can you walk us through each of the movements?

“The first one is called ‘The Offering.’ And I think the Catholic Church didn't like what he was saying, so they sent him off to Tibet and China. He was a paleontologist, as well, and I think he was taking this long walk up a mountain and he got to the top just at sunrise. And that’s when he had this sense of him not only meeting nature, which he really felt resonated with God, but meeting God. And so he says in the beginning of this piece, ‘Since once again I've come, I've come here and I have nothing to give you because I came up empty-handed, so I will give you myself.’

“And the last movement is kind of a prayer. He had some very favorite sayings from the Bible, quotes from the Bible in Latin ‘mane nobiscum domine.’ And it's just this minute and half a cappella. ‘Stay with us, Lord, because it is toward evening.’ And I love that sense of: ‘It’s getting dark. It's a little worrisome right now. Would you stay with us so we can we can transfer over to the darkness in peace?’”


Tina Davidson (official site)

VocalEssence (official site)

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