Bates, Joe: Some Parts of Us. SATB
A heart-warming personal meditation on the shared things that are the essence of friendship, Some Parts of Us also reaches out to all who have felt the highs and lows of relationships. In Joe Bates’s own description, ‘it is about how the basic things we have in common – homes, pasts, sunscreen – belong not to either person but are built together.’ With a gentle irony and cool nostalgia reminiscent of Sondheim’s work, the composer’s own specially written lyrics suggest intimate feeling through richly expressive harmonies and strong melodic lines, woven into a memorable pattern of shifting moods. The message of Some Parts of Us will engage singers and audiences alike, vividly conveying true-to-life insights with the emotional directness of popular music.
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Joe Bate’s Some Parts of Us was originally written for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain as part of their Young Composers Scheme. The lyrics were written by the composer and are, in Bate’s own description, ‘about how the basic things we have in common – homes, pasts, sunscreen – belong not to either person but are built together’. Set with expressive harmonies that ebb and flow, this mesmerising piece reflects on ideas regarding the nature of friendships and how they can change over time. The writing is beautifully placed for voices, and the contemporary idiom, with its direct language and almost speech-like setting, will resonate strongly with youth choirs as well as audiences.
Joy Hill, Choir & Organ, May 2022
While a featured composer on the NYCGB Young Composers Scheme, Joe Bates wrote Some Parts of Us (SATB (div.) unacc. It has a compelling freshness; the composer has set his own text in a conversational style that has a touch of Sondheim about it. The opening, shared among the four voice parts, features an emphatic four-note rise in thirds. This is balanced by the more emphatic phrase introduced at the mid-point of the work: it is this phrase which eventually dominates to the exclusion of all else in an extended fugato-style finale. There is an easy assurance about the shaping of this piece and the part-writing within it. It may have been written by a young man for young people to sing, but I hope MDs and choirs of all ages will take this up.
Jeremy Jackman, Choir & Organ, September 2022
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