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Youth choir and piano,
with hand percussion and recorder

Text by Robert Louis Stevenson (1920)


preview score

Note: This work is sold as a single ensemble digital license.  This grants one ensemble the right to print as many copies as necessary for rehearsal and performance of this piece, for use by one ensemble only, in perpetuity. 

$20 per ensemble

(digital license)

Block City

What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.

Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I’ll establish a city for me:
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.

Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of a tower on the top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.

This one is sailing and that one is moored:
Hark to the song of the sailors aboard!
And see, on the steps of my palace, the kings*
Coming and going with presents and things!*

Now I have done with it, down let it go!
All in a moment the town is laid low.
Block upon block lying scattered and free,
What is there left of my town by the sea?

Yet as I saw it, I see it again,
The kirk and the palace, the ships and the friends,**
And as long as I live and where’er I may be,
I’ll always remember my town by the sea.

* omitted from the composition

** "friends" was originally "men"

Performed by Holdingford Elementary 3rd Grade, directed by Maia Hamann

Program Notes

This piece for young singers is about the adventure of building things with your imagination. The music builds itself up in blocks, with new instruments added in layers using three simple hand percussion lines and a recorder part that uses the first three notes (GAB). As I was writing this music, I imagined some kind of swashbuckling adventure and thought about the time I’ve spent building with LEGO bricks and playing Minecraft and Terraria. The text is by Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and many other books and poems.

"This song is SO GOOD! Not only is it just a really beautiful song, but it's so well written for the level. [...] There are so many concepts that can be taught through this song, like form, ostinatos, triplet rhythms, ensemble playing, dynamics, musical interpretation, etc. [...] It's age-appropriate and fun while also being expressive and high-quality music. Not many songs written for kids accomplish all of that!"  

- Maia Hamann, director

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