The Open Road

for SATB with piano and flute

There are many moments in life when one has to physically and or mentally leave a place of comfort and belonging and make a home elsewhere. Sometimes that is because one chooses to leave due to friends, family, obligations or aspirations and other times one has no choice but to leave because of injury, graduation or, painfully, death. Either way, most of us have experienced these types of crossroads in life.

When I was asked, in the fall of 2013, to write this composition for Steven Joyal, (director of the West Allis Central and Nathan Hale High School choirs) for his spring concert in 2014, I knew I was dealing with a multitude of crossroads. First of all, I was asked to write a composition that was not sacred but that could compliment the Rutter Requiem, which was to be performed right after my composition. I also knew that this would be Mr. Joyal's last concert before retiring after 29 years of teaching. Lastly, the seniors that would be leaving their school, choir, friends and family due to graduation.

After searching for five months for the perfect text I came across the poem “Songs of the Open Road” by Walt Whitman. Immediately, I fell in love with the text and it tied perfectly into every aspect of this concert. The idea of wishing someone a safe journey can mean so many things and can apply to many situations. It could be applied to the loss of a loved one that you are now singing a Requiem for. It could mean that a person is leaving a career that they have been doing for a long time in order to pursue other journeys. It also could mean that one is leaving their friends and family to take the next step in life. In the end, all one wants to know is that everything is going to be okay in their journey. With this song, I wish safe travels to anyone who is, “taking to the open road.”

-Zachary J. Moore

Available for SATB with piano and flute


Song of the Open Road
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

~Walt Whitman


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