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”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)