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WorksChoral MusicBurt Family Christmas Carol SeriesBe Like the Bird

Be Like the Bird
CONDUCTOR FAVORITE (50,000+ copies sold!)

Voicing: 5 part canon
Text: Victor Hugo
Language: English edition (AB-062-C9) - or - French/English Bilingual edition (AB-062-F9)
Duration: varies
Dedication: To High Rocks for Girls; Hillsboro, West Virginia
Premiere: The MPR Carolers, Minnesota Public Radio - Dec. 23, 2009
Published by: Abbie Betinis Music Co.
AB-062-C9 (English only) - or - AB-062-F9 (French/English Bilingual Edition)
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 REVIEWS (Click to view/hide)
"The exquisite concert opener, Be Like the Bird, featured rich, inviting singing from the women of Utah Chamber Artists"
- Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), Dec 3, 2012

"My students LOVE Be Like the Bird. They are singing it for a Sing for the Cure concert -- it is perfect.
Well written, very accessible with a lovely text."
- Carolyn Lokken, vocal music director, Grand Island Senior High, NY; email to the composer (used by permission)

"Be Like the Bird became our theme song for the whole school year! Thank you!"
- Nathan Miller, conductor, Monacan High School Choirs, VA; email to the composer (used by permission)

Performed by the MPR Carolers:
Carrie Henneman Shaw (soprano solo), Kim Sueoka, Melissa Morey, Abbie Betinis, and Kathy Lee

I wrote this canon just after completing cancer treatment for the second time. My family and I sent it out as our annual Christmas card in 2009. And -- while I couldn't have foreseen it at the time -- it would turn into my mantra over the next year, while I underwent a third cancer diagnosis and bone marrow transplant (more info).

My cousin Sarah Riley and I discovered the text quite by accident. In October 2009, our grandfather, the Rt. Rev. John H. Burt (a.k.a Christmas reveler and merry-maker, lover of music and literature, and inspiring leader and activist) had died. After his funeral, and after an impromptu family round-sing (common in the Burt family), Sarah and I were sitting on Grandpa's old couch, reading through some of the sermons he had written and delivered throughout his long life. Sarah is co-director of an incredible program called High Rocks, a comprehensive and unique school for girls founded by her mom, Susan Burt, in the mountains of rural West Virginia.

Sarah and I realized that Grandpa had quoted this lovely Victor Hugo text in a few sermons over the years, always to inspire courage in the face of adversity. It struck me as a surprisingly hopeful text befitting a difficult year, but it also moved me to tears to think of the work that my Aunt Susie and now my cousin herself, sitting there next to me on the couch, are doing to change the world -- one girl at a time.

So I dedicate this carol to High Rocks for Girls. May High Rocks continue to educate, empower, and inspire each girl to know that "she hath wings."
- Abbie Betinis

Be Like the Bird From Victor Hugo
Be like the bird that, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her -- and sings -- knowing she hath wings.

(In French, available in AB-062-F9 edition)
Soyez comme l'oiseau, posé pour un instant sur des rameaux frêles, qui sent ployer la branche -- et chante -- sachant qu'il a des ailes.

This text, to the best of my knowledge, is in the public domain, and may be reprinted from this website for use in concert programs and for promotional use as related to this musical work. The French lyric is slightly modified from the original poem.

Alaska Children's Choir & Cantora Arctica (Janet E. Stotts), Wasilla, AK
Amasong (Meagan Johnson Smith), Urbana, IL
Atlanta Young Singers (Paige Mathis), Atlanta, GA
Augsburg College (Sonja Thompson), Minneapolis, MN
Bella Voce Singers (Jessica Corbin), Brooklyn, NY
Camerata Nova (Angela Neufeld), Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Camrose Camerata, Alberta, Canada
Canadian Mennonite University (Janet Brenneman), Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Central High School Chamber Choir (Martha Graber), Saint Paul, MN
Centre College (Barbara Hall), Danville, KY
Champlin Park High School Choir (Laura Tempel), MN
Choir of Harvard Memorial Church (Carson Cooman), Cambridge, MA
Como Park Senior High School Choir (Carole Whitney), MN
Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
Coon Rapids High School Choir, Coon Rapids, MN
Dickinson State University, Dickinson, ND
Encanto Choir, Mamoré & Parcival Choirs (Maria Tomassen), The Netherlands
First Church in Belmont Unitarian-Universalist, Belmont, MA
Grand Island Senior High School (Carolyn Lokken), NY
High Rocks School for Girls, Hillsboro, WV
Indusa, The Hague, The Netherlands
InVocation Singers, Fridley, MN
Kamarikuoro Aava, Helsinki, Finland
Kammerkoor Cantate (Marian Hofstra), Venlo, The Netherlands
Ladies of the Street (Sandi Mielitz), Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Lake Forest Academy (Tim Plambeck), Lake Forest, IL
Lake Forest College Women's Chorus (Emilie Amrein), IL
Macalester College Women's Choir (Eugene Rogers), Saint Paul, MN
MPR Carolers, Saint Paul, MN
New Jersey Gay Men's Chorus, Princeton, NJ
Palmdale High School Choir (Michael McCullough), CA
Parkway United Church of Christ (Bonnie McClain), MN
Peddie School (Marisa Green), Hightstown, NJ
Songcology: choir of cancer patients, Port Moody, BC, Canada
Speelgroepen voor Vereniging voor Huismuz (Els Schreuder), The Netherlands
St. James Episcopal Church, MI
St. John's Episcopal Church, McLean, VA
St. Martin's Chamber Choir (Tim Kreuger), Denver, CO
The Magpie Consort (Sheena Phillips), Dublin, OH
The Wolf Project, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Unitarian Universalist Cong. of Princeton (Marjorie Herman), Princeton, NJ
University of Manitoba (Elroy Friesen), Winnipeg, MB, Canada
UW-Stevens Point Choirs, Stevens Point, WI
Valborg Octet, Zeist, The Netherlands
Viterbo University Concert Choir, LaCrosse, WI
Wayne State College (Ronald Lofgren), Wayne, NE
Wellesley College (Lisa Graham), Wellesley, MA
West Virginia Univ. at Parkersburg, WV
Westminster College (Natasia Cain), Fulton, MO
Young Women's Leadership School (Ruth Millgard), Astoria, NY

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