[Portrait of Robert Burns, Ayr, Scotland], ca. 1890-1900. Photochrom. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-07528.
From Five Burns Songs, op. 43
This choral work for women's voices was dedicated to the chorus of the Women's Musical Club of Toronto, a group founded in 1899 and still in existence today. Far Awa' was originally composed for solo voice in 1899 as the fourth in a group of Five Burns Songs, op. 43, which sets verses by Robert Burns. She wrote this choral arrangement for the Toronto chorus, Peter Kennedy, conductor, in 1918. The piece was so popular that Beach also wrote a version for two solo voices and, in 1937, an organ version.
Beach's thirty works for women's chorus are a significant part of her output. They include major choral/orchestra cantatas such as The Chambered Nautilus, op. 66, (1907), commissioned by the St. Cecilia Club of New York. The demand for women's chorus repertoire grew exponentially in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Women's musical clubs flourished in the years following the 1893 meeting of the Woman's Musical Congress at the Chicago World Fair, where Beach played a prominent role. She later credited the proliferation of women's clubs with spreading musical taste and fostering more frequent performance of music by women composers.