Donald Sanborn III
(Composer, Lyricist, Librettist)
Instrumentation: Soprano, Bass, standard SATB chorus (the
conductor has the option of letting one singer cover each
part, or using a larger ensemble), B-flat Clarinet, Trombone,
Piano, and the following Percussion instruments: Snare Drum
and Cymbals. The piece also is being scored so that the
instrumental parts can be covered by Organ. The soprano's
aria (Defendant's Prayer) needs only the piano, and can be
I classify Witchtrial as a mini-oratorio (secular), or
an opera in one act. I thought that it would be interesting
to portray the Salem Witch Trials through a dramtic musical
form. After a brief overture, a mob is shouting for the
execution of a young woman (soprano) accused of witchcraft.
Not needing much persuasion, the Judge (bass) sentences the
Defendant to death. The night before her execution, she begs
God to forgive her sins and save her. A brief instrumental
postlude underscores the execution. The unresolved diminshed
seventh chords at the end reflect the fact that,
metaphorically, the witch trials never ended. They continue
to haunt us in one form or another.
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