Monday 29 August 2022

Pages by Steve Milloy & John Moysen

This is part of a series of reflections on current or future repertoire as I take on the role of Musical Director for the Madrid International Choir, the English speaking choir in Madrid.

Photo of Steve Milloy: OCGMC

What is this music?

Pages is a contemporary song written for secular choirs, words by John Moysen and music by Steve Milloy* b1965. 

When you look at the music score you might be surprised by the 6/4 time signature. You might think this is a bit complicated, and why not just use 3/4 with twice as many bars? One bar of 6/4 is not the same as two bars of 3/4, and it’s all to do with the accents. Since the first beat of the bar is given the strong accent, a 6/4 time signature means we wait a longer time from one strong beat to the next, and the musical impact of this is to make the music flow more which gives a more lyrical feel.

Why are we singing it?

It’s a beautiful song. 

The lyrics are open enough to make this not necessarily a love song, they also serve as a thank you to a special friend, partner or family member: 

“You’re the one who keeps turning the pages/You’re the one that I keep turning to”

That's a charming couplet, as is:

“Every word is a whisper/ each sentence a sigh”.

If you take a moment to read about the composer Steve Milloy you will not be surprised at the quality of the songwriting, given his vast experience as a musical director and choir trainer and composer for choirs. 

The vocal lines match the lyrics perfectly, bringing out every nuance in the text. The piano part is so well written, I find myself playing it through regularly, not only to keep up with the more intricate moments, also just to enjoy playing it. There is a constant 2 against 3 interplay which gives the music at first movement, then energy, then at the approach to the chorus, absolute dynamism. 

Is it relevant to us today?

It’s never not the time to say thank you and there is always someone who deserves our appreciation, so just on this level it is appropriate for us to sing this lovely song.

It’s also right that we should recognise the quality of living writers and composers and celebrate their achievements in the best possible way, which is to perform their work. Maybe the question is not so much, is this classical or pop music, as is this high quality music? 

Undoubtedly, this is music of the highest quality and we will enjoy singing it and our performance will give enjoyment to our audience. 


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