There is something quintessentially Canadian about this song. The Lawren Harris reference is obvious, but also the comfort in desolation, isolation and cold barrens. And also the waiting, waiting, waiting – from Anne of Green Gables to the 501 Queen Streetcar, we are well described by Ron Sexsmith in his same-titled song, “all our lives, we wait on trains”.

Great poems often make for lousy texts, but this is a perfect example of the synergy of music and words in art song. I can’t help but read the poem with the deft inflections and shaping that Morlock gives with her skillful setting, and it is so much more vivid and powerful in this fashion. Morlock understood that this is a poem where the words need to be heard and understood to make sense, keeping out of the way unobtrusively before swooping in for lush contours and impassioned melody that create compelling and persistent images.

When young singers at the U ask me to recommend a song for their undergrad recitals, this is always one of the first ones to spring to mind. I never get tired of hearing it.


Notes to the Performer:

  • Range – D#4 – G#5 (soprano/tenor)

Title:  Train

Composer:  Jocelyn Morlock

Country:  Canada  

Text:  Alan Ashton

Duration:  7 min

Date of Composition:  1999

Publisher:  Canadian Music Centre

How to get the score:  pdf for sale at Canadian Music Centre or bound copy




Performance History:  (fill in as many as possible. Incompletes ok. Include yourself!)

  • Grace Chan and William Lewans
  • Charlene Pauls and Cheryl Pauls
  • Heidi Klann and Gregory Oh, 26 Feb 2006, Toca Voca, Music Gallery, Toronto, ON


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