Smoke and Steel
composer: Nancy Galbraith (2016)
author: Carl Sandburg (1922)
genre: SATB, chamber ensemble
length: 20 movements, 60:00 minutes
publisher: Subito Music Publishing (ASCAP)
60 Depot Street, Verona, NJ 07044 • 973-857-3440
orchestration: SATB, bar-solo
fl, ob, cl, b-cl, tpt, 2 perc, pno, elec-gtr
world premiere: 30 April 2016
Bach Choir of Pittsburgh
Thomas Douglas, conductor
Kevin Glavin, baritone
Carrie Furnace, Braddock, Pennsylvania
program notes: "Smoke and Steel" was commissioned by the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh to commemorate the once thriving Pittsburgh steel industry and the workers who helped to build that city and our nation. Composer Nancy Galbraith, a Pittsburgh native, adapted the texts from Carl Sandburg's poem of the same name. The work was presented in two concerts at the Carrie Furnace historic site in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Galbraith chose to set Sandburg's narrative poem for its colorful language and its tailor-made setting in the early 20th century mills in Pittsburg (once spelled without the "h") and neighboring towns Homestead, Braddock and Birmingham. The factories in Youngstown, Ohio and Gary, Indiana are also credited in the poem.

Galbraith's work features 20 distinctive movements with enticing titles such as "Ghosts Hide in Steel," "Luck Moons Come and Go," and "Pearl Cobwebs in the Windy Rain," each employing the first phrase of one of Sandburg's beguiling and spellbinding verses. The composer's musical renderings of the poet's verses are wide-ranging and masterfully in sync with the spirit and meaning of each of the texts.
Martha Tablewight