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CoverSisi ni moja (We Are One) [level: Medium]
Jacob Narverud: Bio and other works
NewIssue
voicing: TBB | catalog number: SBMP 1481 | duration: 4:10 | price: $2.25
accompaniment: drum
Accompaniment Track: piano part - FREE Download
Instrument Part: djembe part 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


Kansas City Comrades - Jacob Narverud, conductor [© all rights reserved]

Fratelli, A Men's Chorus - Zack Thomas Wilde, conductor
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"I'm singing this amazing work with my Men's group and it's been getting a wonderful response from our audiences."
review by: Christopher Anderson, New York, NY -


Featured on the following reading sessions
2018 | Dorian Vocal Festival - Luther College, Decorah, IA - 1/15
2018 | Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses Workshop in Waterford, Michigan
2018 | MSVMA Summer Conference in Lansing, Michigan
2018 | New Sounds Kansas 6/12-14/2018
2018 | Indiana CDA, June 24-27 Reading Session
2018 | Rodney Eichenberger's Summer Choral Workshops

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