Main Category

  • Treble Chorus
  • Treble Chorus AND Unison and Two-Part


  • SSA
  • Piano
  • Secular
  • Choral
  • Canadian Poet/Songwriter
  • Female Poet


  • English

Maple Keys

Publisher: LAH Publications

Catalogue Number: LAH 55

Year: 2019

For: SSA with Piano

Maple Keys was commissioned by Burnaby Youth Choir, Teresa Jukich-Fierro, director, and Coastal Sound Children’s Choir, Diana Clark, director.

Poet’s notes:

In writing text for this commissioned song, I started from a different place than my regular approach to creating a poem. I focused my initial thoughts on several principles: the piece would be for a children’s choir and the imagery should reflect the maple key, the seed pod of maple trees. In addition, I considered the difference between poetry and the lyrics of a song: the aural clarity of the text so that the listener is able to understand the song’s wording on first hearing versus the opportunity which a reader has to study a poem at leisure for understanding.
As is usual for me, my inspiration is emotion and the visual. In my mind’s eye, I saw the sailing maple keys and felt the joy that their movement always arouses in me. I felt the wonder of the green world alive and growing around us, that we are a part of, that we connect to on many levels. Finally the rhythms of the words echoed Irish folk songs and the music of our Indigenous communities.
With all these things in mind, I still found the words flowed quickly onto paper.

~Marion Saunderson

Composer’s Notes:

I’m grateful to poet Marion Saunderson for creating this beautiful text for this project. The inspiration behind her poem and the emotional ideas she had in the different sections spoke to me very clearly. I finished composing the work before asking her to share some notes for the performers, and discovered that her description of the text’s emotional landscape aligned perfectly with my experience of her poem and, therefore, the various things that happen musically throughout my setting. The sense of “whirling, twirling” freedom was very clear to me, and caught my imagination with a sense of the unknown – of the adventure and optimism of the maple key swirling along to it’s destination. I also felt the sense of wonder at the green world Marion refers to above, and this section in the music (“O great tree my mother, O green tree my father”) changes to express a sense of reverent respect and awe. Here it is almost prayerful – not in a distant way that separates the maple key from the great green trees, but respectfully honouring the connection between the maple key and the trees.
The quick “ah” sections that return throughout reflect a brimming over of joy and freedom, and I imagine a brightly placed “ah” vowel here that is legato but agile and free.


Original text by Marion Saunderson:

I am a helicopter child
Whirling, swirling, sailing
Into the wide unknown
Dancing, arcing
Into the future.

Wind carry me upward
Wind blow me onward
Wind sail me outward.

O The great tree my mother
The green tree my father:
Send me into the world
To plant new hope
To grow new dreams.

Wind carry me upward
Wind blow me onward
Wind sail me outward.

I was born in high branches
Swaying, singing, growing
Now I seek a new home
Earth to welcome me
Soil to feed me
I am tomorrow.

Wind carry me upward
Wind blow me onward
Wind sail me outward.
I am tomorrow.