Always Keep This Close

for SSAA with piano and option string quartet 

The Women’s Concert Chorale, of the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, has always held a special place within my heart. When Dr. Frank Watkins first presented the idea to set this beautiful text by Colleen Carhuff to music, I could not pass up the opportunity.

This poem was actually originally set on behalf of the poet’s experience within this ensemble. Colleen explains her process and experience here: “I was requested to write The Greatest Thing We’ll Ever Have (now Always Keep This Close) by members of the Women’s Concert Chorale who knew how much writing meant to me. At first, I thought it would be impossible, because I thought the love I have for WoCo was too great to be put to words; how could I explain what this remarkable group of women means to me? After a week of battling myself and over-analyzing my words, I decided to write what those women had given me, and write it in the form I know best: as if I’m speaking directly to someone. My poem is speaking to the women of WoCo in a deeply personal way, because my experience itself was deeply personal. I wanted everyone in the group to know how much it meant for me to be included, to feel like I had a home no matter where I was, and to show them the significance of what they do and experience every day.”

This experience that she explains above is one that I have found within my own experiences of singing within ensembles. Sometimes it is hard to put into words what an experience means to us. For many choristers, being a part of a choir is more than just a musical experience, it is one filled with laughter, love and joy. It is a place of belonging and to some, a second family.

While I was setting this song I knew that I wanted to capture that warmth, togetherness and love that is felt within a choir. Throughout the song there are various examples of homophony and call and response that represent individuals being there for one another. There are also many examples of warm chords to bring to life the love that is felt. One moment within the song, which happens to be my favorite, is, “You do more than music here.” It is hard for an outsider to really understand what happens within a choir. My goal at this point was to make this statement just for the choir to share with the audience. It is a moment of vulnerability and a glimpse to the audience of what it truly means to be in a choir.

~Zachary J. Moore


Song: Always Keep This Close
Ensemble: Cantala 
Conductor: Dr. Phillip Swan

Available for SSAA with piano and optional string quartet
Available through Santa Barbara Music Publishing: Sheet Music


Always Keep This Close  

Always keep this close
and you’ll never need more,
your world is here
with the familiar voices
that linger in the air
and all those hearts
that have learned to beat
in time with each other.
You make more than music here.
No notes are as connected
as the souls that sing them
and no soul is happier than when
she is surrounded by her sisters.
Even when you leave
this does not leave you,
when you are lost just listen
and you will always
find your way home.
It is impossible for something
to go from your life
without first becoming part
of who you are.
You are another,
I am you,
we are one.

~Colleen Carhuff (b. 1992)
The Greatest Thing We'll Ever Have

Music Catalog