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Time into a tune

By Staff | Oct 18, 2013

Chris Bieri/PCT Dave Halvorson took more than eight years to complete his composition of “Things I Think About When It Snows”. The choral piece will be performed for the Village Arts Christmas Concert.

Dave Halvorson had an idea for a Christmas song. He knew it was a good one, but the Rugby native and Wolford School music teacher hit a snag in the writing process.

That was eight years ago.

But over the summer of 2013, Halvorson completed the song and it will be featured as a choral number during the Village Arts Christmas Concert on Dec. 15.

The song, called “Things I Think About When It Snows,” started as a tune that he could have his own musical groups at Wolford School perform at Christmas concerts.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said. “As a choir teacher, I’m always looking for something to perform other than Jingle Bells or Silent Night.”

He credits Chuck Repnow for getting the second line and an acquaintance, Gaby, for recommending horses and the main character, grandpa, into the song.

But that’s where the song stopped, until this summer.

“I just put it on the back burner,” he said. “I talked to a couple different poets about it. I couldn’t get any ideas from them. Then I was driving down the road to Minot. I had to pull over. I was writing on napkins and envelopes. By the time I got to Minot I had the poem finished. The music kind of came with the words. I sat down at home and put in the different voice parts. I had to harmonize it and put in a piano accompaniment. I suppose I had 40 hours into it.”

Other works by Halvorson have been performed by other community music groups and at other schools and colleges, but he said he is thrilled that the community choir is performing one this year.

Musically, the song starts out like a hymn. Thematically, it’s about remembering people around the holidays who are special.

“The lines start weaving as the piece progresses,” Halvorson said. “It gets really intense in the middle section. It’s a very emotional piece. When I was thinking of grandpa, and grandpa actually dies. That was one thing I was really concerned about.”

Halvorson said he thought of his mother, and friend Dave Houim, which inspired the lyrics.

“I can still see his smile,” Halvorson said. “The song is kind of about loved ones and their good memories. Their good things still shine in us.”

Halvorson has written more than 200 songs and notes “Summer’s Road Suite,” and “Under the Arctic Sky” as two of his favorites.

He said the best time to write is in the evening, but it can be dangerous if he gets on a roll.

“If you don’t watch it, you’ll work all the way through until morning,” he said.

One of his favorite goals is to write songs that his students at Wolford will enjoy. He’s currently writing a song for students at Schrader Middle School in Grand Forks to perform.

“You always think about your group and the people that are going to perform it and you need to write for different skill levels in each group,” he said. “I always try to make the music fun. There isn’t a lot of fun music written for fifth and sixth grade. For my music classes, it’s always fun, no matter who plays it.”

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