Abbie Betinis (b. 1980) is an American composer with a focus on choral music. She is also a three-time cancer survivor, which she cites as an important inspiration for her works. Her work, Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight, is based on a poem by Vachel Lindsay about a restless and presidential murder victim.
This piece for Men's Chorus, Snare, and Piano is quite haunting indeed. The chorus often sings in a very particular manner, whether it be super short marcato notes or long and haunting harmonies. The rhythm is most important in this piece, which is in part brought on by the snare drum. The rhythm during the marcato sections are always present, and at the slow and legato change, the dissonant harmonies become more important.
This piece in a way reminded me of Eric Whitacre's music. So I decided to compare this work to his Five Hebrew Love Songs. I chose this, because the rhythm in this work is also very important when singing in Hebrew. There are similarities with dissonances in both works, but I feel like Whitacre frequently prolongs dissonances more and gives them special meaning. In Betinis's work, the dissonances were used to emphasize the text and then quickly resolved. The rhythm in both pieces are very driving and precise.
I really enjoyed listening to this piece, although it did creep me out a little bit. Something about the thought of Lincoln wandering around as a restless ghost is very unsettling.
Betinis, Abbie. "Abbie Betinis: Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight" (video). Accessed May 2, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrPvPAVMjgY.
Lindsay, Vachel. "Abraham Walks at Midnight." http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176810.
Whitacre, Eric. "Eric Whitacre - Five Hebrew Love Songs - The Eric Whitacre Singers" (video). Accessed May 2, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKEnaURxbjg.