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Northwest Girlchoir 

December 3, 2016, Seattle, Washington

Ave Maris Stella

SSAA Chorus, divisi and Piano


$2.00 per score

About the Work

Ave Maris Stella was commissioned by the Johnston Family and premiered by the Northwest Girlchoir in December of 2016. It has been nominated as a semi-finalist for the American Prize in 2019. 

Program Notes

In Ave Maris Stella, I sought to evoke the shining light of the star of Mary glimmering over the sea by musically expressing the colors I associate with the text. The work’s central image is the glow of a star shimmering above the waves of the sea. The sopranos begin the work with the original eighth-century Gregorian chant, on which the subsequent music is largely based. After the first verse of the chant is introduced, the lower voices begin in B minor, which I hear as the color blue. This B minor/blue association is used to convey the deep color of the ocean and is also associated with the Virgin Mary herself as the color of Heaven, representing her role as Queen of Heaven and earth. The singers begin on a unison B-natural and branch out into clustered chords based on the first three notes of the chant, which then rise and fall representing the gentle undulation of the waves of the sea. Above them, a floating descant based on a variation of the chant melody evokes the shimmering Star of the Sea.


Ave Maris stella,

Dei Mater alma,

Atque semper virgo,

Felix caeli porta.

Monstra te esse matrem,

Sumat per te preces,

Qui pro nobis natus

Tulit esse tuus.

Sumens illud Ave

Ave Maria, gracia plena

Gabrielis ore,

Funda nos in pace,

Mutans Evae nomen.


Hail Star of the Sea,

Loving Mother of God,

And Virgin immortal,

Heaven's blissful portal!

Show thyself to be a mother,

That, through thee, He may accept our prayers.

He who, born for us

Chose to be your Son.

Receiving that "Ave"

Hail Mary, full of grace,

From the mouth of Gabriel,

Reversing the name of "Eva,"

Establish us in peace. 

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