The Story of Dark Water

February 19, 2020 - By 

Since launching ChoirCommunity at the start of 2018, one of the things we’ve continued to ask ourselves is “what kind of website are we?”, or perhaps more specifically, “what kind of website are we striving to be?”.   On a superficial level, we are simply another digital marketplace for choir music, bringing choirs on one side and arrangers and composers on the other side together.  From the start however, we wanted to ensure we were more than just a ‘Wanna-Be Ebay’ for choirs.  As choir leaders and singers ourselves, we wanted to project something of the experience and enjoyment of what being part of a choir means to people and ensure that all our members shared that experience as well.  In order to do that, we knew that we had to maintain the highest standards of quality and variety with every piece of music we offered and present it in a way which is accessible and enjoyable to browse for.

That is the primary reason why we have retained a relatively small and ‘curated’ library of music and group of submitting artists.  We will continue to grow both, but always with a view to ensuring that what you can find on ChoirCommunity will always be interesting, satisfying, enjoyable and above all, great to sing!

Jane Edwardson approached us last year with a song called ‘Dark Water’ with a view to seeing if it was something we might be able to publish.  We immediately recognised that the song was all of the things described above, as well as carrying a important message about hope and friendship.  As an experienced choir leader and arranger of 30 years, it also helped that Jane had a large portfolio of other great arrangements which we could also have a look at (Watch this space!).

Jane has written some more detail about the song and why she arranged it for her choir below.  We hope you enjoy it and give the arrangement a try!

Dark Water is a really beautiful and very powerful song written by Sean Cooney, a member of the Teesside folk trio The Young’uns. Sean was inspired to write the song after hearing a radio interview with Hesham Modamani from Syria who described having to leave his country after the disappearance of his brother. He and his friend fellow Syrian Feras Abukhalil decided to swim across the Aegean Sea to try to find safety. Having plotted a route google maps they made the 5km journey overnight, intending to rest on a couple of small islands they’d spotted. As they set off the sea was calm and they swam under starlit skies but the wind picked up and the sea became very rough. They discovered they were unable come ashore on the islands as planned as there were no landing points – cliffs plunged into the sea – and as they swam past the island they saw ravens flying above them. Hesham thought he and his friend were going to die but his friend encouraged him to keep going until they were rescued by a passing boat. The song Dark Water describes this epic journey.

I first came across Dark Water when a member of Gay Abandon, the choir I lead, asked me if we could sing it in our 20 year anniversary concert which was on a theme of friendship. I was immediately very taken with the song and asked The Young’uns if they would be happy for me to arrange it for the choir. They generously agreed and I got stuck-in creating a choral arrangement – I was captivated by the song, with it’s powerful imagery and lyrical melody. I felt immersed in the vision of the two friends swimming in the rolling sea, and was inspired by the refrain ‘Dark water, carry me’. I wanted to stay true to the original recording of the song and gave the introduction to a soloist who sings again at the coda backed by choir.

I introduced Dark Water to Gay Abandon on our annual residential weekend and the choir took the song to its heart straight away. It is a deeply emotional song and I think most of us shed a tear while singing it over the following weeks leading up to our concert as we turned our thoughts to the power of friendship.

You can read more about the two men and their journey here.

The SATB arrangement of Dark Water is available for download here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *