Morton Gould's A Bird In Hand from 'Quotations' for Double Chorus of Mixed Voices and Wind Orchestra. Piano reduction.
This work was commissioned by L. Anthony Fisher for the New York Choral Society, Robert DeComier, conductor, and first performed by them on January 28, 1983 at Carnegie Hall.
The composer, after thinking over the possible approaches to a choral work, found the ide of platitudes, common sayings, and poetic referenmces challanging and stimulating. As 'Quotations' evolved, he found that these sayings evoked nostalgic momories of his own childhood in Richmond Hill, New York, where he was reared on such aphorisms as "the early bird catches the worm," "a stitch in time saves nine," "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
After setting the scene in Richmond Hill, the piece begins with Hallelujah Amen, the common shout for joy and closing whisper of all religions. An antiphonal series of platitudes follows, and then moves to more complex secular litanies, the 'ballads,' or stories, of young love and old age and the precariousness of life which have been told and retold through the ages. In the last movement, the religious litany resumes with "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" echoing the earlier prosaic motif "here today, gone tomorrow," or, as Gould finally writes, "time's up!"