Life Songs, book II
Singing the Sun
(2001) for mezzo-soprano, optional male narrator, flute/piccolo/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, cello
- The Ecchoing Green [William Blake]
- I taste a liquor never brewed [Emily Dickinson]
- The Cricket [Sappho]
- Song [Blake]
- The Eagle [Alfred Tennyson]
- Thou Orb Aloft Full-Dazzling [Walt Whitman]
- Night [Blake]
duration: 16 minutes
July 11, 2001 at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, in Wintergreen, VA (David Wiley, Artistic Director and Conductor); Angela Horn, mezzo; David Dzubay, conductor.
audio excerpts from beginning & end (arrowheads navigate tracks):
This piece was made possible by a grant from the Fromm Music Foundation
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).
While dancesing in a green bay used poetry of E. E. Cummings exclusively, Singing the Sun uses text by five different poets. The poems in the present set are tied together by their relationship to the themes of sun, sing, and flight. The singer and narrator alternately sing and speak the texts. The sung poems, 1, 3, 5, 7, are observations of nature, describing sun and spring (1), sun and cricket (3), sun and eagle (5), and sun and moon (7). Spoken poems 2, 4, 6 are first-person, intimate declarations, presenting short narratives, with the passionate Whitman poem providing the dramatic anchor of the entire work, and leading without break into the concluding return to night.