Aura Lea

for TTBB with violin and piano

When Dr. Gary Schwartzhoff first approached me to write a composition for The Singing Statesmen, at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, I had no idea where to even begin. I looked for months at various poems that would mean something to the ensemble. After a long process of looking, I was notified that the ensemble would be performing a memorial set in honor of the end of the Civil War 150 years prier. I soon began to look at old folk songs from the Civil War and came across Aura Lea.

Ironically, I hated this song in high school the first time I ever performed it. I felt that the song had a nice melody to it, but lacked passion. As I aged and gazed upon this song again with a new maturity, I fell in love with the words but realized the music lacked a sense of longing. I then placed this song in historical context. I pictured a bunch of men around a campfire singing this song while thinking of someone they loved. In reality, these men were quite young, some only in their teens, and they were most likely singing this song knowing they would never make it home again to see their “Aura Lea”.

That being said, I knew this folk song deserved a new musical twist. Originally the song was set to be in a Major key; however, I turned that around and set it to a minor key to capture that longing feeling. I also knew that I wanted to keep a pastoral/folk authenticity to the arrangement, so I decided that a violin could capture that feeling. I also figured the violin could double as the musical spirit of Aura Lea throughout this arrangement. Last, I wanted to pay tribute to the original arrangement of Aura Lea and so, I made a section of this arrangement Major.

In the end, I could not have asked for a better arrangement and premiere. The piece was meaningful and struck a chord with both the group and audience. I also had the fine privilege of student conducting the premiere of this arrangement. “I am among men, most richly blessed.” ~ anonymous Civil War Veteran.

Zachary J. Moore


Song: Aura Lea
Ensemble: UW-Eau Claire Singing Statesmen
Conductor: Zachary J. Moore

Available for TTBB with violin and piano
Sheet music available through Colla Voce


Aura Lea

As the blackbird in the Spring,
'Neath the willow tree,
Sat and piped, I heard him sing,
Singing Aura Lea.

Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid of golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.

In thy blush the rose was born,
Music, when you spake,
Through thine azure eye the morn,
Sparkling seemed to break.

Yet if thy blue eyes I see,
Gloom will soon depart;
For to me, sweet Aura Lea
Is sunshine through the heart.

Aura Lea, Aura Lea,
Maid of golden hair;
Sunshine came along with thee,
And swallows in the air.

~American Folk Song

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