Life Songs, book I
dancesing in a green bay
(1999) for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion
Text: E. E. Cummings
- between green/ mountains
- the/ sky/ was
- grEEn's d
- All in green went my love riding
- (sitting in a tree-)
- in the rain-
duration: 18 minutes
Voices of Change (Christine Schadeberg, soprano) at Caruth Auditorium, SMU, Dallas, conducted by the composer, November 15, 1999.
audio excerpts from beginning & end (arrowheads navigate tracks):
Voices of Change, a 1999-2000 participant in Chamber Music America's A Musical Celebration of the Millenium, Commissioned this work. Support for the commission came from The National Endowment for the Arts, the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation, Susan W. Rose Fund for Music, The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, and the CMA Endowment Fund.
The titles of Life Songs, Books I and II, dancesing in a green bay and Singing the Sun are paraphrases of lines from Do Not Go Gentle In To That Good Night, the famous Dylan Thomas poem. ("Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay," and "Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight"). I have plans for two further song collections deriving titles from that poem: Life Songs, Book III - Blazing Eyes/Blinding Sight, and Life Songs, Book IV - Fierce Tears (this last to finally include the Thomas poem itself).
The Cummings poems in the present set are, perhaps loosely, tied together by use of words from the title, particularly "dance," "sing" and "green." All of the poems except "six" have outside, natural (green) settings. While the songs were composed as individual entities, they are arranged in a symmetrical order, balancing on the most substantial fourth song. They are also meant to complement and contrast each other, as shown by suggestions to the performers for each movement's character: orgiastic, pastoral, hiccupy, brave, playful, twitterjoy, and tenderly.
Winner of the 2000 Wayne Peterson Composition Prize, administered by San Francisco State University.