Published May 04, 2022 by Tom Porter

Music Professor Shende Sets Ukrainian Poet Khersonsky’s Words to Music

The upcoming concert by the Bowdoin Chamber Choir on May 7 will feature the premiere of a  choral work by Professor of Music Vineet Shende. Shende, who is a globally acclaimed composer in his own right, was inspired to write the piece by the horrific events unfolding in war-torn Ukraine.

Vineet Shende

“While trying to figure out what I, as a composer, could do to help,” said Shende in an email to colleagues, “I came across the devastating poem Missa in tempore belli by the celebrated Ukrainian poet Boris Khersonsky.” Shende was able to get in touch with Khersonsky and received permission to set his words to music.

“While I think the majority of the poem would need a full orchestra, choir, and perhaps tenor and soprano soloists to do it justice, I felt the opening section, Kyrie, would work best for SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, bass] a cappella choir.” The result is a short piece (under three minutes), the opening lyrics of which are taken from the Ukrainian national anthem and which translate as “Ukraine has not yet perished.”

Click here for more information on Boris Khersonsky’s poem Missa in tempore belli, including an English translation.

In this video clip, music lecturer and choirmaster Jeffrey Christmas rehearses with members of the Bowdoin Chamber Choir.