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Download an a MP3 file of this work (high voice solo) performed by Gregory Gallagher, Cutter Burnett, and Isaiah Guerrero, tenors, and Kayla Paulk, piano
(Photograph of the dedicatees giving the first informal reading of this work, with an audience on the couch of the family basset hound.)
These songs were originally composed as a wedding gift for Eleanor Bach (soprano) and Evan Roider (pianist) -- young friends of the composer.
The texts for these songs are taken from the past (mostly 19th-century). But the sentiments are ageless. Each of the poems presents special imagery which has inspired the musical settings.
"Evening Song" speaks of nocturnal romance. Moonlight sparkles on the glimmering waves (piano introduction). The sun has set. Come forth, sweet stars, and comfort heaven's heart. The night may separate the sun and the sky (the "lovers"), but never our lips, never our heart.
In the Yeats poem, "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven," the lover yearns to give his beloved beautiful gifts -- embroidered cloths, which he would spread beneath her feet. But alas, being poor, he can offer only his dreams. Tread softly. He directs his thoughts to heaven as he wishes for the cloths with gold and silver light.
A piano introduction allows time to enter the poetic world of Lord Byron's "She Walks in Beauty." A simple melody is accompanied by steady, walking rhythms. Although the original poem speaks only of the woman (beloved) -- reverently, objectively -- this new interpretation inserts a verse to include the man (lover), thus creating a love song for a couple. He walks in courage...they walk in beauty, O love!
For the joining of hearts, a passage from the "Song of Solomon," Set me as a seal upon your heart, is added as a text for the final portion of this song. The accompaniment is strong -- both flowing and insistent. The voice ascends in triumph:
For faith abides.
Love, faith and hope abide.
And love shall live forever.
Notes by the composer
In m. 72, the text (for altos) should read "never our hands".