Then I flip the tape to side A. The Glee Club set that fall opened with a four-part meditation on the death of Absalom: Josquin’s “Absalon, fili mi,” the Sacred Harp tune “David the King,” Tomkin’s “When David Heard,” and our premiere of Benjamin Broening’s setting of “When David Heard.” In other words, a fine uplifting set. Then I heard—a hum. Some multi-tonal stuff going on. I go over and look at the tape liner notes. It’s “Time Piece.”
“Time Piece“! Written for the King’s Singers in 1972, it goes from polytonal to high comedy to low comedy. After a while, there are cuckoo clocks, roosters, and other vocal effects, and then C. J. Higley, bless him, as the voice of God, yells “STOP!” The chorus intones, “‘Stop’, said God, holding his head…” and then continues for another five minutes more. Total run time: about 15 minutes. The Smith chorus (and audience) were moved to laughter at more than a few points.
And then we wrapped up with another three song set of spirituals.
I can’t imagine doing such a long guest set today. I also can’t believe that we only performed “Time Piece” twice (once during the Kickoff Concert that fall, once at Smith). But by springtime we were on to Young T.J. and a totally different repertoire.