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THE SEASONS (2010)  Op. 101

Opus number: op. 101

Title: The Seasons, A Cantata of Duets

Text: Elizabeth Kirschner (see opus numbers 86, 92, 99, 100, 108 for texts)

Instrumentation: tenor and harp, mezzo-soprano and piano, baritone and harpsichord, and soprano and guitar 

Date written: 2010

Length: seventy-five minutes

Program notes: This work consists of five pieces: four sets of duets (Fall, Autumnal Raptures, op. 86; Winter, Exaltations of Snowy Stars, op. 92; Spring, In a Garden of Dreamers, op. 99; and Summer, The Fragrant Pathway of Eternity, op. 100) plus all eight performers on the finale: Echolocations of Cellos, op. 108.

Recording: Larry Bell: In a Garden of Dreamers, Albany Records (1308/09)

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SUMMER: THE FRAGRANT PATHWAY OF ETERNITY (2009) Op. 100

Opus number: op. 100

Title: Summer: The Fragrant Pathway of Eternity, a song cycle for soprano and guitar

Text: Elizabeth Kirschner

Texts: click here

Summer

THE VANISHING DEW

The hummingbird’s shimmer
looks hand-painted, her iridescence
is the glaze of a god all over
her body. She knows there’s
sweet wine in the deep-throated
flowers and if she thought to think
she would believe that of us, too.
She is a whirling ecstasy—wing-
blur blues the swooning air, her pip
is the sound of a pebble  trembling
in a slow-moving stream. I want to say
her flyways give me guidance
while I endure the vanishing dew,
the vanishing you.

MOONVINE

Solitude entombs me until I’m stranded
like a bird the gods don’t  see because
no love is high enough to touch the soul
in which I hide. You trellis me
with moonvine under clouds sulking
like old gardenias while I ask God
for ruin and neglect, for poverty
and disintegration, for existences lived
in heavy isolation. I watch
a damselfly flit in leafy water, how
she vibrates in the breeze as though
it were a torrent—o dear God,
pardon us unto peace.

FEVER BLOOMS

At the bottom of the garden is a gate
you must close to come through fully:
behind, all behind are fever blooms—blooms
red as my red-hot blood, snowdrops
like tiny candlesnuffers, witch hazel blazing
like yellow cornmeal and childhood elongated
like caterpillars silked inside satin green cocoons,
finger-dabs of rain. Every gate is
a crucifixion—the sparrow of the heart
wing-spanned by nails. Every tomorrow is
a maybe—trees tighten their belts,
birds sharpen their beaks while mute
cellos moan about heaven-sent sea scent.

THE SHEEPSCOTT RIVER

The sudden surge of the dock
as it thrusts from the pier,
dragging seaweed like a Spanish mantilla.
The chop, chop, chop of the river slumming
substance into a fireworks of atoms, molecules
melting in the dressing rooms of the dead—
o moonless broken sky bridge.

THE FRAGRANT PATHWAY OF ETERNITY

Deepened by loss, blue psalms
slip through my bones and the breezes
become guides. Even the seashells
weep, trees rent their leaves
and the roots of flowers become
black knotted rosaries. The fragrant
pathway of eternity ripples through
this inglorious life while death’s
drama grandly unfolds with
multiplying shadows, but I am
not schooled by them because of
the solace in ringing lights, in the aching
pulse in the sea’s green veins, solace
in the smoking relics and earth’s
velvet purse enlightened by a streaming
sun which shines in spite of everything.

Date written: 2009

Length: sixteen minutes

Premiere performance: May 19, 2011, Erin Holmes, soprano, John Muratore, guitarist, Brown Hall at New England Conservatory

Subsequent performances:

Program notes: These song cycles represent my four-part work called The Seasons, op. 101. Each of the four song cycles contains five songs and can be performed on its own. Fall: Autumnal Raptures, written in 2006 for tenor and harp, was especially conceived for Thomas Gregg and Emily Laurance. Winter: Exaltations of Snowy Stars is for mezzo-soprano and piano and was written for and first performed by D’Anna Fortunato and myself in January of 2008; here it is sung by Bethany Tammaro Condon. Spring: In a Garden of Dreamers, was written for Phillip Lima in the fall of 2009 and is scored for baritone and harpsichord. The final set Summer: The Fragrant Pathway of Eternity, is scored for soprano and guitar.

The most important element uniting these works is their common poet, Elizabeth Kirschner. Elizabeth’s poetry inspired each song in ways that I cannot consciously explain–nor would I wish to if I could. The poems are profoundly intimate, refreshingly free of pessimism, and vividly imagistic. Most importantly, perhaps, is that they clearly originate from a determining artistic personality that feels perfectly suited to my own.

Recording: Erin Holmes and John Muratore, Larry Bell: In a Garden of Dreamers, Albany Records (1308/1309)

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SPRING: IN A GARDEN OF DREAMERS (2009) Op. 99

Opus number: op. 99

Title: Spring: In the Pendulum of My Body, a song cycle for baritone and harpsichord

Text: Elizabeth Kirschner

Texts: click here 

IN THE PENDULUM OF MY BODY

Listen to the tender ears of darkness
warm as cupped peaches—
do not cry! The breezes
mill through the wall, knowing
the door is always open. Refresh
your joy in the pendulum
of my body, its grave, golden weight.
Sweet love, it’s spring—
sleep with the windows open!

A TINY ELEGY

In darkness. I toss blossoms
into a brook while standing in
a red gazebo. I face pain
and my soul drifts into the murmuring
waters. Moody spring comes
wild with green waste: why
does love cling to me when I’m least
alive? Why do I retire from ecstasy?
O green stems! O flowery boughs!
May the goddess of spring paint
silken watercolors upon my despair
even though bird chirp begins
and ends in me. Marooned in gloom,
dark clouds are dead asleep, clouds
which could be broken like shared bread.
This is what that goddess says:
do not donate your music to the gods.
And so every fallen blossom is a tiny elegy.
And so a mass of manic crows
fly out, fly out from the wounds in trees
while airy spirits abandon me.

ENCHANTMENT

I thought I saw a butterfly
mazed in March wind,
Black wings, black wings
flew through the hips of God
like a blown kiss amidst
endless spring, endless you

IN A GARDEN OF DREAMERS

In the branches of cherry trees
sweet wine foams from spring-to-spring.
You are vernal. You open the gates
behind which the sky flies.
Your smile keeps death at bay
and pearly seeds glow in darkness
quiet as an infant sung to sleep.
When we are together
the luminous water
fills the flask. In the glory
of clouds, we are enwrapped, enraptured.
How else could we keep standing
hand-in-hand, encased in invisible blossoms?

MY SPRING APPARITION

I love you all the more
when fish shed their golden scales—
lick one from the tip of my rosy finger
and you will taste at least a dozen of my souls. A certain tingle of light mingles in your hair.Without the melting diademy
of musicwhere would we be?
The poetry inside
sleeping buds lulls me to sleep when
I lie next to you. I have been writing
to you all my life. You are my spring apparition, returned. I cannot make a song without you. I cannot embrace the dawn unless
you embrace it from the other side.
Aren’t we borne away upon the same
breast of a blushing bird? Flesh
unto flesh, a thin shimmer of being
surrounds us. Inside a silver box
a ballerina sighs a love cry.
She sighs it for you. She sighs it for me.
O happy, happy love!

Written for: Philip Lima

Length: seventeen minutes

Date written: 2009

Premiere performance: May 19, 2010, Philip Lima, baritone, Paul Cienniwa, harpsichordist, Brown Hall at New England Conservatory.

Subsequent performances: January 16, 2012, Philip Lima, baritone, Paul Cienniwa, harpsichordist, First Church Boston

Program notes: These song cycles represent my four-part work called The Seasons, op. 101. Each of the four song cycles contains five songs and can be performed on its own. Fall: Autumnal Raptures, written in 2006 for tenor and harp, was especially conceived for Thomas Gregg and Emily Laurance. Winter: Exaltations of Snowy Stars is for mezzo-soprano and piano and was written for and first performed by D’Anna Fortunato and myself in January of 2008; here it is sung by Bethany Tammaro Condon. Spring: In a Garden of Dreamers, was written for Phillip Lima in the fall of 2009 and is scored for baritone and harpsichord. The final set Summer: The Fragrant Pathway of Eternity, is scored for soprano and guitar.

The most important element uniting these works is their common poet, Elizabeth Kirschner. Elizabeth’s poetry inspired each song in ways that I cannot consciously explain–nor would I wish to if I could. The poems are profoundly intimate, refreshingly free of pessimism, and vividly imagistic. Most importantly, perhaps, is that they clearly originate from a determining artistic personality that feels perfectly suited to my own.

Recording: Philip Lima and Paul Cienniwa, Larry Bell: In a Garden of Dreamers, Albany Records (1308/1309)

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DUET FROM HOLY GHOSTS (2007), op. 93

Opus number: op. 93

Title: Duet from Holy Ghosts

Instrumentation: Tenor, soprano, piano

Text: Andrea Olmstead based on the play by Romulus Linney

Texts: click here

COLEMAN. My name is Coleman Hannibal Shedman, Junior.
I own and manage–
– the Shedman Fish Farm,
left me by my father when he died.
Like a fool,
I wanted to get married.
On our honeymoon I took her all the way to Virginia!
NANCY. Oh, Coleman, you are as dumb as a ditch!

COLEMAN. To camp at beautiful Hungry Mother State Park!
I planned for us to fish together.
All she could say was,
NANCY. Hungry Mother is a stupid name for a State Park,
and a miserable place for a Christian honeymoon.
COLEMAN. One week ago.
I come home upset,
full of misguided love.
I took Nancy tenderly in my arms,
NANCY. Coleman you are the disgust of this world.
COLEMAN. and tried to tell her how much I cared.
NANCY. Oh, my God!
COLEMAN. But I was tired!
NANCY. Oh, my God!
COLEMAN. Working and slaving
to support my wife at the fish farm.
And when I woke up the next morning,
wife, furniture, family heirlooms, and my Dodge pick-up, gone!
In their place, a little note.
NANCY. (Sweetly) “Dear Coleman. Last night
I met a real man. Yours truly, Nancy.”
COLEMAN. I want my furniture,
family heirlooms, my Dodge pick-up, and a divorce!
NANCY. A lot more happened that night than you’ll admit,
you horse-faced rat and rodent, you.
You were not full of misguided love,
you were full of beer and whiskey!
And all of a sudeen grabbing me.
In spite of myself,
I was swept with carnal desire.
When I finally managed to get my clothes decently off,
You pawying and clutching,
And finally, I wanted you
Because I want a baby, Colman,
A baby, and said so!
Then, you climbing on top of me on that old sofa
And just hanging there.
Then passing out! Out! Boom!
Me rolling humiliated out from under you,
You rolled over on the floor, flot!
Like thant, with your pants down
And that thing of yours aslep just like you, flo[!
COLEMAN: I want my furiture,
My family heirlooms, and my Dodge pickup truck.
NANCY. You don’t know what it’s like,
To be a mortified wife.
I felt so bad.
Dear Jesus, I prayed, give me a sign.
Somdoby was aat the front door.
I turned around crying.
It was Oby.
COLEMAN: Doing what, preacher!
Wacking off?
NANCY: Asking if I had a match.
So he could light his campfire
So understanding and polite
(I was naked.)
I put on my clothes.
And I went with him to his campfire.
I told Oby everything.
He understood.
And he told me things, about life,
and Jesus our Lord, and the Bible,
things that I never heard before anywhere.
COLEMAN. I want my furniture, my family heirlooms, and my Dodge pick-up truck.
NANCY. And he took me in his manly arms,
and he said a prayer in my ear, and kissed me.
What a difference, between (pointing at Oby) day
and (pointing to Coleman) night!

Date written: 2007

Length: ten minutes

Premiere performance: January 20, 2008, Chelsea Basler, Thomas Gregg, Larry Bell, pianist

Program Notes: Duet from Holy Ghosts, Op. 93, is a selection of two duets for soprano and tenor that are first sung in the opera Holy Ghosts. The excerpts were first sung at a recital in January 2008 in Williams Hall at New England Conservatory by soprano Chelsea Basler and tenor Thomas Gregg.

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WINTER: EXALTATIONS OF SNOWY STARS (2007) Op. 92

Opus number: op. 92

Title: Winter: Exaltations of Snowy Stars, a song cycle for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano

Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano and piano

Text: Elizabeth Kirchner

Texts: click here
The Seasons: Winter
“Exaltations of Snowy Stars”

EXALTATIONS OF SNOWY STARS
Oasis of chilly afterthoughts:
could I have loved more when love
became me? The leaves bury themselves
beneath the snow as if their low fires
were a sin to be hidden from God.
Exaltations of snowy stars birthing
frosty crowns. Here, there, a chickadee
and my heart, like an antique clock,
locked and stopped. Stillness then
and a wound inside the great silences.

THE NIGHT BELLS
More than wind, it seems,
wants to die, even the moon
is seized by frozen darkness
and so my isolation tingles
deep inside while I watch
the dizzy delirium of fallen snow.
My dreams are underwritten
by a god ghosted by rolling
penumbras. In the low interiors
that loft me, heaven packs
my soul too tight. And so
I have been leased to love you.
And so the frost-bitten wind
scans into poignant pentameters
and the sharp driven intensities
of your lines split me into
infinitudes touched by tidal titillations:
ung, ung, ung goes the night bells—
death hints at me, sinks in you.

BEREFT, BEREFT
Winter winnows into me
the treasure-trove of death.
The stars retreat.
The birds close down and the sky
is the color of ivory marrow. I am
one of the lost ones that loss
leans into with its weights
of lead, and its heart of stone.
Kinship dies. Love dies. Bereft, bereft
are the ancient trees that bear
wounds older than God.
Seeds of ice plant numbness
in my bones. And yet
their souls romance with me while mine
is beaten down to a heap of ash.
Why do I live like one who cherishes
perishing? Wildly, wildly all those
ancient trees are tossing snowy
headdresses as if to grieve over their
lost fruit whose sweetness, like mine,
has been bitten into bitterness.

LILT OF LULLABY
O how I long to mount
the wild horse of dance,
dream and lunacy while snow,
in beautiful excess, falls from
Eden. A long lost radiance
steals all over me, healing all
the long ago wounds. Lilt
of lullaby while snow flies.
And you lurking in the ante-
chamber of my heart, that
closed bud that can only be
opened by your bliss-blown kisses.
Solace comes in long sighs.
And the great consoling angles
draw their sustenance from
the soft fire of our love,
that bright blaze in evermore,
everlasting darkening days.

THE TINY HEART OP HEAVEN
We are but a wedge in wind.
Gold dust falling from clouds.
A shimmer that never escapes its shine.
O glory to the snowflakes that land,
like manna, upon that wedge, that gold dust,
that quick shimmer which mirrors the reflections
of birds who lift their wind-skirted wings
while searching for the sea holding
the tiny heart of heaven. Touch me,
it says, taste me and savor
the relishing of all that free-falls
in a world showered with gold dust
just now descending.

Written for: D’Anna Fortunato
Date written: 2007

Length: sixteen minutes

Premiere performance: January 20, 2008, D’Anna Fortunato and Larry Bell, NEC’s Williams Hall

Subsequent performances: May 19, 2010, Bethany Tammaro Condon and Larry Bell, Brown Hall at New England Conservatory. March 27, 2011, Bethany Tammaro Condon and Larry Bell, The Beethoven Society, Melrose, MA. January 16, 2012, First Church Boston

Program Notes: [on desktop under CDs] These song cycles represent my four-part work called The Seasons, op. 101. Each of the four song cycles contains five songs and can be performed on its own. Fall: Autumnal Raptures, written in 2006 for tenor and harp, was especially conceived for Thomas Gregg and Emily Laurance. Winter: Exaltations of Snowy Stars is for mezzo-soprano and piano and was written for and first performed by D’Anna Fortunato and myself in January of 2008; here it is sung by Bethany Tammaro Condon. Spring: In a Garden of Dreamers, was written for Phillip Lima in the fall of 2009 and is scored for baritone and harpsichord. The final set Summer: The Fragrant Pathway of Eternity, is scored for soprano and guitar.
The most important element uniting these works is their common poet, Elizabeth Kirschner. Elizabeth’s poetry inspired each song in ways that I cannot consciously explain–nor would I wish to if I could. The poems are profoundly intimate, refreshingly free of pessimism, and vividly imagistic. Most importantly, perhaps, is that they clearly originate from a determining artistic personality that feels perfectly suited to my own.

Recording: Bethany Tammaro Condon, Larry Bell, In a Garden of Dreamers Albany Records (Troy 1308/09)

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CHORAL FANTASIA On UNCHANGING LOVE (2006) Op. 87

Opus number: op. 87

Title: Unchanging Love, a hymn based on a text by Romulus Linney

Instrumentation: SATB choir

Text: Romulus Linney

Text: click here
Jesus defend us, O sweet mercy send us,
O angels attend us with unchanging love,
Jesus defend us and sweet mercy send us,
And angels attend us from heaven above.
Angels attend us Sweet mercy send us,
Angels attend us Sweet mercy send us,
Jesus defend us, O sweet mercy send us,
O angels attend us with unchanging love,
Angels attend us Sweet mercy send us
Angels attend us Sweet mercy send us,
Unchanging love.

Date written: 2006

Length: two minutes

Premiere performance: September 15, 2009, Berklee Performance Center. (See op. 90, Holy Ghosts)

Program Notes: Unchanging Love, Op. 87, is a hymn written in an SATB format for congregational singing. Not only is it the basis for the beginning and end of the opera Holy Ghosts, but it also provides most of the material for “Unchanging Love” for brass quintet and organ. The text comes from the conclusion of Romulus Linney’s play, Holy Ghosts: “Jesus, defend us, oh mercy send us, and angels attend us from heaven above. Jesus defend us, oh mercy send us, and angels attend us with unchanging love.”

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FALL: AUTUMNAL RAPTURES (2007) Op. 86

Opus number: op. 86

Title: Fall: Autumnal Raptures, a song cycle for Tenor and Harp

Instrumentation: tenor and harp

Text: Elizabeth Kirschner

Texts: click here

AUTUMNAL RAPTURES
The somber river flows under
the wooden bridge I stand upon—
the railing is stained with green-
gold mold, as is my heart. One
small opening can lift a lifetime
out of stillborn currents: see
how I tip up my face to gaze
at the forest canopy—pendants
of perfumed light fall upon me.
I scatter them like seed, like
fertile tears while the resounding
river continues its ancient conversation.
Right now it says: the autumnal
raptures have begun. Even loss
can be full of rapture: each dear being
is an ember we keep in our remembering
hearts while the shades carry
death in its ghostly, godly body as
we age. Autumnal, the homespun apples.
Autumnal, the gourds that vibrate
with a secret music. Autumnal,
my life—its waning is unwavering.
Still the spiced air is enough for
the last butterflies to get drunk
upon—it is that sweet with nectar.
I breathe in, I breathe out.
I twirl around, I kneel down, then
twirl around again, knowing
that prayer is the luxurious mood
love motions into us: wave
after wave, day after day.

FLOW IN ME
The autumn rain is a beaded curtain
I walk through while plunging myself
into the decrescendo of this voluptuous
season. Love blossoms in that decrescendo—
it sings when we are deafened
by death and darkness. This music makes
the moments thirst for more: it has a sheen
like blue satin stained by the tears of a god
who is always drawing his last breath.
The deeply veined leaves are deepening
as are mine. Flow in me, I cry
to you, o my beloved. Even the trees
are tipsy with autumnal succor—
there’s solace in what dies, every
leaf, every seed, every last kiss
is rimmed with a hymn. Those
who suffer know all the words for grief:
it is the master of our making. My love,
carve in me a crèche, light the votive candles which, hard as you blow,
never will go out.

VINTAGE
I listen to the moon’s sonata—
partake, it sings, of the buried riches.
Each of us is a resurrected song
answering and being answered at once.
Vintage, autumn is all about vintage—
my veins are full of murmuring wine.
My blessings intoxicate me as I
work deep in my scarlet root. I live
like the unearthly glow surrounding dying
flowers—my spiritual being deems
it so. Besotted with shameless light,
I touch the sky’s blue hem while
skirting death as though it were
a wildfire. Today I cast a shadow,
tomorrow I may not. If so, let
my music muse out of the cello’s
body long before the bow
touches its trembling strings.

EXILED DEITIES
I linger in loitering light, knowing
it is my life-blood. All around are the
voices that say: numb yourself to sleep,
but my awakening eyes, awakening heart
are ripe berries ready to burst
like bubbles of champagne. I
crush the dying leaves in my hands—
everything I cherish will perish.
How to go on? I do so by remembering
that each living thing is an exiled deity.
Therefore the wood thrushes offer their
mortal voices: their rhythm is my rhythm.
Soon they will flock to flee the lessening
days, lengthening nights while I
cup my hands to my lips and cry:
cull me into the falling grace notes,
pregnant pauses and the wind that stutters
as it says: be the least of all—shattered
feather, splintered ray—to be the most of all in the haunted church we call the world.

BENEATH AUTUMN’S DIRGE
Exotic spices spice the air while I
learn to travel up to the lowest circle
of heaven which gazes upon these
undulating hills. If I could climb
higher I would. If I could touch
God, fingertip-to-fingertip, all
my shattered dreams would slowly
weave themselves into a gold-meshed
veil while I become sleep’s sweet
child during this, the waning
season. Beneath autumn’s dirge,
there is a love song I long to hear.
Every word hangs in the air like
a perfume I would douse upon
my bare throat. Kiss me there,
my love, and all my long-lost
losses will turn into the glossy
wheel that surrounds the sun.
How little we are. How big we are.
Lie with me and our deeply
carnal bodies will vibrate like
antique instruments that still
know how to play the ripe
notes, the resounding notes, the yes-
I-am-coming-home-for-good
notes that will live beyond
our star-studded existence.

Date written: 2006

Length: nineteen minutes

Premiere performance: May 19, 2010, Thomas Gregg, tenor; Emily Laurance, harpist, Brown Hall at New England Conservatory

Subsequent performances: Thomas Gregg, tenor; Ina Zdorovetch, harpist. January 16, 2012, First Church Boston

Program Notes: These song cycles represent my four-part work called The Seasons, op. 101. Each of the four song cycles contains five songs and can be performed on its own. Fall: Autumnal Raptures, written in 2006 for tenor and harp, was especially conceived for Thomas Gregg and Emily Laurance. Winter: Exaltations of Snowy Stars is for mezzo-soprano and piano and was written for and first performed by D’Anna Fortunato and myself in January of 2008; here it is sung by Bethany Tammaro Condon. Spring: In a Garden of Dreamers, was written for Phillip Lima in the fall of 2009 and is scored for baritone and harpsichord. The final set Summer: The Fragrant Pathway of Eternity, is scored for soprano and guitar.
The most important element uniting these works is their common poet, Elizabeth Kirschner. Elizabeth’s poetry inspired each song in ways that I cannot consciously explain–nor would I wish to if I could. The poems are profoundly intimate, refreshingly free of pessimism, and vividly imagistic. Most importantly, perhaps, is that they clearly originate from a determining artistic personality that feels perfectly suited to my own.

Recording: Thomas Gregg and Emily Laurance, Larry Bell: In a Garden of Dreamers, Albany Records (Troy 1308/09)

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DREAM WITHIN A DREAM (2006)  Op. 79

Opus number: op. 79

Title: Dream within a Dream

Miracles (Walt Whitman)
A Cradle Song (William Blake)
A Dream Within a Dream (Edgar Allan Poe)
There came a wind like a bugle (Emily Dickinson)
Dover Beach (Matthew Arnold)

Five songs based on texts by Whitman, Blake, Poe, Dickinson, and Arnold

Instrumentation: soprano and piano

Dedication: Robin Reinert

Date written: 2006

Length: fifteen minutes

Premiere performance: October 15, 2006, NEC’s Jordan Hall, D’Anna Fortunato and Larry Bell

Subsequent performances: March 30, 2007, Robin Reinert, soprano, and Larry Bell, piano. 29th Annual Seminar on Contemporary Music For the Young, The Rivers Music School, Weston, MA

Program Notes: Dream Within a Dream, Op. 79, is a song cycle of five diverse poets: Whitman, Blake, Poe, Dickinson, and Arnold. The songs were specifically written for my composition student Robin Reinert (who is also a fine soprano) in the spring of 2006. The songs were first performed in October 2006 by D’Anna Fortunato and myself in Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory. Later in 2007, Robin Reinert and I performed the songs while I was composer-in-residence at the Rivers School in the spring of 2007.

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SONGS OF TIME AND ETERNITY (2002) Op. 64

Opus number: 64

Title: Songs of Time and Eternity

Dedication: D’Anna Fortunato

Instrumentation: soprano and piano (texts by Emily Dickinson)

Date written: October 2002, Boston, MA

Length: ca. 12 minutes

Premiere Performance: D’Anna Fortunato, mezzo-soprano; Larry Bell, piano; Woodstock-Fringe American Song/Fest, August 2003, Woodstock, NY.

Important subsequent performances: D’Anna Fortunato, mezzo-soprano; Larry Bell, piano; Music on Marlborough, Boston, MA, October 2004. Robin Reinert, soprano; Luis Ortiz, piano. Today’s Youth Performs Today’s Music, Brown Hall, New England Conservatory, January 2005 and May 2, 2005 St. Cecilia’s Church.

Recording: Albany Records CD Troy741, ,D’Anna Fortunato, mezzo-soprano; Larry Bell, piano.

Program notes: The poems of Emily Dickinson are often grouped together by subject matter. One such grouping, poems of “Time and Eternity,” is the source of the five poems in this short cycle. Songs 2, 3, and 4 are preoccupied with the afterlife and a healthy religious skepticism. The perspective of songs 1 and 5 ranges from a childlike wonder about the future to an adult’s obsessions with romantic memory.

Texts:

I.

Will there really be a “Morning”?
Is there such a thing as “Day”?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?

Has it feet like water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?

Oh some Scholar! O some Sailor!
Oh some Wise Man from the skies!
Please to tell a little Pilgrim
Where the place called “Morning” lies!

II.

Going to Heaven!
I don’t know when,
Pray do not ask me how,
Indeed I’m too astonished
To think of answering you!

Going to Heaven!
How dim it sounds!
and yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the Shepherd’s arm!

Perhaps you’re going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first,
Save just a little place for me
Close to the two I lost –

The smallest “Robe” will fit me
And just a bit of “Crown;”
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home.

I’m glad I don’t believe it
For it would stop my breath –
And I’d like to look a little more
At such a curious Earth!

I’m glad they did believe it
Whom I have never found
Since the mightyAautumn afternoon
I left them in the ground.

III.

To know just how He suffered – would be dear–
To know if any human eyes were near
To whom He could entrust His wavering gaze–
Until it setteld broad – on Paradise –

To know if He was patient – part content –
Was Dying as He thought – or different –
Was it a pleasant Day to die –
And did the Sunshine face His way –

And if He spoke – What name was Best –
What last
What One broke off with
At the Drowsiest –

Was He afraid – or tranquil –
Might He know
How Conscious Consciousness – could grow –
Till Love that was – and Love too best to be –
Meet – and the Junction be Eternity

IV.

It makes no difference abroad –
The Seasons – fit – the same –
The Mornings blossom into Noons –
And split their Pods of Flame –

Wild flowers – kindle in the Woods –
The Brooks slam – all the Day –
No Black bird bates his Banjo –
For passing Calvary –

Auto da Fe – and Judgment _
Are nothing to the Bee –
His separation from His Rose –
To Him – sums Misery –

V.

Heart! We will forget him!
You and I – tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave –
I’ll forget the light!

When you have done, pray tell me
That I might begin!
Haste! while you are lagging
I may remember him!

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