Sleep (Eric Whitacre song)

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Sleep is a work for a cappella chorus composed by Eric Whitacre with lyrics by poet Charles Anthony Silvestri.



In October 2000,[1] the 16-voice Austin, Texas choral ensemble Austin ProChorus made the debut performance of an eight-part choral work (SSAATTBB) by composer Eric Whitacre, a setting of the 1923 Robert Frost poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".[2] The work had been commissioned by attorney and professional vocalist Julia Armstrong for the ensemble as a memorial to her parents. After the work was performed by The Concordia Choir under the direction of René Clausen and at the 2001 national convention of the American Choral Directors Association, Whitacre learned that the Frost poem was under copyright, and he could not publish the work before the poem's U.S. copyright expiration in 2019 without the consent of the Frost literary estate, which refused to grant permission. Rather than give up publishing the work, Whitacre asked poet and frequent collaborator Charles Anthony Silvestri to write a new text which would correspond to the meter of the Frost poem and to the expressive details Whitacre had emphasized in the music. The next day Silvestri offered the poem Sleep, taking up the theme of sleep from the last stanza of Frost's poem.[3][1]

Later developments[edit]

Whitacre has stated that he prefers the Silvestri text over the original and will therefore not republish the music with the Frost poem, even after 2019.

Whitacre selected the piece for his "virtual choir" project in 2010, in which videos submitted by hundreds of volunteer singers were combined to produce a video representation of a combined performance.


The work appears on Whitacre's album Light and Gold (Universal Decca, 2010).


Sleep has also been transcribed for concert band and string orchestra.


  1. ^ a b Eric Whitacre. "Sleep". Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Robert Faires (April 19, 2002). "Articulations". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  3. ^ L.O. (June 24, 2011). "The Q&A: Eric Whitacre, composer (interview)". The Economist. Retrieved June 10, 2016.

External links[edit]