Distant Melody

Cranberry High School senior Janice Irwin’s composition ready at the piano.

Student contributor

Many people compare life before graduation as a free trial, a warm up if you will, but soon to be former student, Janice Irwin, took this comparison quite literally.

Ordinarily, a few members from the graduating choir will select a piece and sing it, but this year, Irwin soared above and beyond and put together a song all by herself.

“It’s amazing to see a student grow to the point of taking a junior high song and turn it into a four-part a cappella woman’s piece,” said Coral Director Preston Yoder.

The song, based off of a Scottish folk song, “A Distant Shore,” was used to warm up by Irwin when she first joined chorus. She never considered making her own piece prior, but when the selection process for a song started, she instantly thought of “A Distant Shore.”

She brushed it off since it was such a simple song with a lone melody, but revived the idea by adding many harmonies of her own to the folk song.

Irwin showed her variation to her peers and they thoroughly enjoyed it. It took her roughly one week of relentless work at school and home to compose by herself, with a minor amount of mentorship from Yoder. She created it by singing the original melody and then formed new harmonies, which she would record and separate into parts.

“I want people to be inspired and a little sad. I want people to reflect on the past while also looking forward to the future, and to truly relish the heartbreaking experience of parting with a friend,” Irwin said.

Irwin says that this is a song relating to traveling with friends, just like the journey from kindergarten to graduation. Despite how lonesome graduation may be though, Irwin feels ready for the world ahead of her and is excited to work to her full potential.


Dylan Lu is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications group.