Songs for Sopranos

This academic year has been rich with opportunities for writing vocal music. In addition to the two choral pieces I wrote for Fall quarter, I also had the opportunity of writing two art songs, one for a collaboration with Nicolas Isherwood’s vocal studio, and one for another collaboration during a residency with Lucy Shelton.

Of course this composition process lead to a lot of singing to myself in a a variety of inappropriate locations, but that’s not really anything new for me. Since September, I’ve learned quite a bit about writing for the voice, and I’ve found I need to direct my attention to a lot of factors that I took for granted, such as the idea of rhythmic placement of consonant sounds.

Regardless, it’s been a great experience, and here’s what it sounded like:

Sea Lily
Katherine Price, Soprano

[audio:http://www.simonhutchinson.com/SeaLily.mp3]

Text by H.D.

Reed,
slashed and torn
but doubly rich–
such great heads as yours
drift upon temple-steps,
but you are shattered
in the wind.

Myrtle-bark
is flecked from you,
scales are dashed
from your stem,
sand cuts your petal,
furrows it with hard edge,
like flint
on a bright stone.

Yet though the whole wind
slash at your bark,
you are lifted up,
aye–though it hiss
to cover you with froth.

On a March Day
Annie Reser, Soprano; Ben Krause, Piano.

[audio:http://www.simonhutchinson.com/March.mp3]

Text by Sara Teasdale

Here in the teeth of this triumphant wind
That shakes the naked shadows on the ground,
Making a key-board of the earth to strike
From clattering tree and hedge a separate sound,

Bear witness for me that I loved my life,
All things that hurt me and all things that healed,
And that I swore it this day in March,
Here at the edge of this new-broken field.

You only knew me, tell them I was glad
For every hour since my hour of birth,
And that I ceased to fear, as once I feared,
The last complete reunion with the earth.

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Art, to be fully appreciated, must be true to contemporaneous life. It is not that we should ignore the claims of posterity, but that we should seek to enjoy the present more. It is not that we should disregard the creations of the past, but that we should try to assimilate them into our consciousness.

-Okakura Kakuzo