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WorksChoral MusicWomen's ChorusA Blessing of Cranes

A Blessing of Cranes

for SSAA Chorus and Piano

Music: Abbie Betinis (2015)
Lyrics: Michael Dennis Browne
Duration: 7:30 min.
Commissioned by: The 2014 ACDA Women's Choir Commission Consortium.
        Iris S. Levine, National Repertoire and Standards Chair for Women's Choirs

Published by: Abbie Betinis Music Co, AB-091-01 (Aug 2016)

Download: Score Preview, and Print/fold Abbie's original Origami Crane Pattern (PDF)

LISTEN (recorded by Lumina)


Demo recorded by Lumina at WildSound Studio in Minneapolis.

A Blessing of Cranes
Michael Dennis Browne (2014)  

How do we love you more than to shape you?
Turning so firmly in the shadows of fingers.
How do we love you more than to let you go?

Waves of earth's oceans, waves of our willing hands
Creasing and folding, creasing and folding, unfolding.
How do we love you more than to shape you?

Never a thought of thinking, only this weaving,
These thousands of wings we make to carry our longing;
How do we love you more than to let you go?

No trembling before the task, simply this sweetness,
Freedom from fear, receiving this heartbeat, receiving.
How do we love you more than to shape you?

Blossoms that shimmer and gather about their branches,
Returning to earth her peace, her original blessing;
How do we love you more than to let you go?

Deeper than dream to say, even than singing,
Releasing the wishes we have, the asking for healing;
How do we ever love you more than to shape you?
How do we love you more than to let you go?

© 2014, Michael Dennis Browne. Used by permission of the poet. These lyrics are under copyright, and may be reprinted from this website only for use in printed concert programs related to this particular musical work. For permission to reprint for any other purpose, please contact the poet.

On August 6, 1945, the force from the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, blew two-year-old Sadako Sasaki out the window. She survived, but by age 12, began to show signs of leukemia, caused by radiation from the blast. Her friend Chizuko visited her in the hospital and brought a gold piece of paper which she had folded into a paper crane using the art of origami. A Japanese legend promises a wish will be granted to the person who folds a thousand cranes, so Sadako set to work, saying "I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world." She folded over 1,300 cranes in the hope of healing her cancer, and healing the world from war. Sadako died later that year, but her statue stands today, holding an origami crane - now a worldwide symbol of peace - at the Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima, and it receives colorful "Senbazuru" (a thousand cranes tied together) from people around the world.

When I realized there would be about 1,000 singers as part of this special commission, I wondered, could I ask each singer to fold a paper crane? Perhaps together we could advance our wish for peace. What if each choir could "fold" a crane musically, just by singing? I started experimenting with the paper, creasing and folding - trying to figure out how to render this beautiful, meditative, and geometric activity into sound. By mapping each fold to a note on the staff, I was able to slowly transform the folding process from physical to musical. With my cranes and sketches in tow, I approached poet and librettist Michael Dennis Browne, to ask if this idea inspired him too, and I'm so grateful that it did. He wrote a beautiful poem - geometric, hopeful, intimate and worldly - and I've attempted to craft the music with as much elegance.

At the end of this score is a pattern for you to cut out and fold into your own paper crane. I hope you enjoy the process of transforming this flat square into a symbol of hope, and - likewise - of transforming this silent score into sound.

- Abbie Betinis, 2015


I've put together a little Pinterest board on Sadako, crane-making, symbolism, and other lovely things to know:

And here's a fun Facebook photo journal charting the process of composing this piece:



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  COMMISSIONED BY: (Click to view/hide)
The 2014 Women's Choir Commission Consortium of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA):
Aria, MontereySean Boulware, conductor
Aurora ChorusJoan Szymko, artistic director
Bella Voce Women's EnsembleJennifer Tibben, conductor
Bonneville HS Bel CantosSteve Dresen, conductor
California Lutheran University Women's ChoraleWyant Morton, conductor
Cantala (Lawrence University Women's Choir)Phillip A. Swan, conductor
Carthage Women's EnsemblePeter Dennee, conductor
Central Bucks West Women's ChoirJoseph Ohrt, conductor
Clark College Women's Choral EnsembleApril Duvic, conductor
Elektra Women's ChoirMorna Edmundson, artistic director
Flower Mound (TX) High School Women's ChoraleMark Rohwer, conductor
Grand Rapids Women's ChorusLori Tennenhouse, conductor
Holton-Arms SchoolMary Jane Pagenstecher
Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble at Augustana CollegeMichael Zemek, conductor
Kennesaw State UniversityAlison Mann, conductor
Lewis and Clark College Women's ChorusMargaret Green, conductor
Lexington High School Women's ChorusJason Iannuzzi, conductor
Manitou Singers, St. Olaf CollegeSigrid Johnson, conductor
Michigan State University Women's Chamber Ensemble     Sandra Snow, conductor
MUSE, Cincinnnati's Women's ChoirRhonda Juliano, artistic director
Nazareth Academy ChoraleKatherine Chmelko, conductor
Peninsula Women's ChorusMartin Benvenuto, artistic director
Portland Lesbian ChoirPaul Zona, artistic director
Saint Mary's College Women's ChoirNancy Menk, conductor
Sistrum, Lansing Women's ChorusMeredith Bowen, conductor
South Dakota State University Women's ChoirLaura Diddle, conductor
Spirito!Molly Lindberg, conductor
The Girl Choir of South FloridaWallis Peterson, conductor
The Ohio State University Women's Glee ClubKristina MacMullen, conductor
University of Mississippi Women's Glee ClubDebra Spurgeon, conductor
University of Missouri Women's Chorale, Columbia MOElizabeth Hogan McFarland, conductor
University of Southern California Oriana Women's ChoirJo-Michael Scheibe, conductor
Vox Femina Los AngelesIris S. Levine, artistic director
Wellesley College ChoirLisa Graham, conductor
West Ottawa High School Select Women's EnsemblePam Pierson, conductor
WomanSong (West Virginia)Emily Capece, conductor
WomenSingMartin Benvenuto, artistic director