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CoverSisi ni moja (We Are One) [level: Medium]
Jacob Narverud: Bio and other works | Janeal Krehbiel Choral Series
voicing: SA | catalog number: SBMP 1439 | price: $2.20
accompaniment: piano, djembe
Accompaniment Track: piano part - FREE Download
Instrument Part: djembe - FREE Download


Ever clever, composer Narverud came up with a highly rhythmic celebratory composition. The title translates “We are one”, the theme being that all human beings have much in common. The energetic djembe sets the tone, the piano adds its own rhythmic design, and the singers deliver the message, at times sounding as though there should be a campfire at the center of their circle. Great fun, a profound message, and an intriguing piece, this is a winner!

Composer Notes
The original voicing of Sisi ni moja was commissioned in 2015 for the Michigan State University Children & Youth Choirs by their director, Kyle Zeuch, to celebrate unity and community through cultures. This piece was written specifically for their world-music concert theme, “We are One.” It was requested to be similar in style to my arrangement of the Kenyan song “Jambo,” and was commissioned by the director for SA(T)B choir, piano, and djembe. The SA voicing was written two years later (2017) for the Lawrence Children’s Choir in Kansas, Carolyn Welch, Director, and a TBB voicing was requested by the publisher later that same year.

I wanted to create an uplifting, hopeful song that had a modern, popular-style vibe and dealt with the choir’s theme of unity and one-ness. Since the piece was intended to represent all people and all cultures, I sought to write a text that would reflect just that. I was teaching high school at the time, and a student in one of my choirs was from Kenya. I asked her to assist me with a Swahili phrase that I could combine with a new original text, which would translate specifically to “We are One.” Though not a common Swahili phrase, we came up with “Sisi ni moja,” pronounced “Moh-Jah” with a hard “J”. “Heja” (pronounced “hey-yah”) is a non-word with no literal meaning, and does not represent any specific culture. It is given a more instrumental treatment in the chorus, acting as a joyful, declamatory backdrop to the song’s message of unity. This “celebratory chant” mirrors the piano and djembe’s heavy rhythmic influence, energizing and driving the song forward.

When I wrote Sisi Ni Moja I specifically chose chord progressions that would be familiar to the ear of both the audience and the singers performing. These popular music chord progressions, coupled with the speech driven rhythms and repetition in the piano, allow listeners to feel an instant connection to the music and focus on the message of the text.

-Jacob Narverud (2018)


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CLICK HERE: See and Hear the Complete Score or download a perusal copy: HERE

CLICK HERE: Read the text
We all laugh, we all cry, we all feel hunger, we all feel pain.
We all love, we all hate, we all hope, and we all dream.
We are one world, one people. And we all breathe the same
. A tribe of many languages, a group of many heartaches,
fighting for peace among the land.
Heja, heja, sisi ni moja. Heja, heja, we are one.

We all want, we all need, we all seek passion, we all seek joy.
We all bruise, we all scar, we all fail, but learn to thrive.
We are one world, one people. And we all breathe the same.
In the darkness of the night and in the glory of the morning,
we walk along the path and find our way.

Now we stand here together and lift our hearts in song
to the rhythm of this moment in our lives:
Heja, heja, sisi ni moja. Heja, heja, we are one.

Jacob Narverud


Lawrence Children’s Choir - Kansas, Carolyn Welch, conductor [© all rights reserved]

Hillsboro Rockin' Hawks & Festus Intermediate Honor Choir COMBINED under the direction of Dr. Barbar Lamont.
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Featured on the following reading sessions
2018 | Popplers Elementary Clinic - Aug 9th with Mark Burrows
2018 | NJ ACDA - July 23-24
2018 | TN ACDA 7/26-7/28 and Univ. Memphis Summer Orff 7/9-7/20
2018 | "Surviving & Succeeding as a HS choir director" event, June 25-29 at Vandercook College of Music with Stan McGill.
2018 | University of SD Choral Directors Institute RS, 6/20-22/2018
2018 | New Sounds Kansas 6/12-14/2018
2018 | Clarksville Montgomery County Schools Inservices. 6/5/18
2018 | FABM reading session in Green Lake, WI in July
2018 | TCDA Reading Session - July 26-28 - San Antonio, TX
2018 | OAKE Reading Session - March
2018 | Brumfield at OAKE Reading Session in March
2018 | ND ACDA Reading Session a in Fargo - 2/2
2018 | MEAChoral Reading Sessions on 3/1-3/3
2018 | Dorian Vocal Festival - Luther College, Decorah, IA - 1/15
2017 | Summer Reading Session Winnepeg - August 24-26
2017 | J.W. Pepper New Sounds Reading Session in Syracuse

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