Night Songs

for bass-baritone and piano

Written: 2016-17
Duration: ca. 20'
Instrumentation: bass-baritone and piano
Commissioned by David Neal and made possible, in part, with funding from The Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County
Upcoming World Premiere: American Modern EnsembleDavid Neal, Bass Baritone, Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, April 26, 2018
PublisherBill Holab Music

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Night Songs is a song cycle consisting of settings of poems by different poets that reflect on various aspects of nighttime. The cycle is structured as a somewhat linear timeline, as if the songs are meditations by a single individual.

The cycle begins with a setting of City Dusk by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a nostalgic exploration of the memories someone might have as he or she sits in the park at dusk. This person is in the park as the lights go down, and begins to feel sad, but remembers a time when this place wasn’t dark and lonely, but filled with lights, music, and people. He also remembers one specific person, a woman with blonde hair who loved to dance, who in this case, I interpreted as my wife Victoria. The second song, Lullaby, is a setting of the poem of the same name by W. H. Auden, and is a constructed as a love song sung to someone who is sleeping, and is about the inevitability of death, and looking after someone you love. In the third song, a setting of Birds Appearing in a Dream by Michael Collier, I use bird-like motivic patterns to provide structure for the colorful, figurative descriptions throughout Collier's text. The fourth song is a setting of Insomnia by Dana Gioia. In this poem, the narrator is full of regret, and finally realizes the value of people over possessions. The final song, a setting of Flying at Night by Ted Kooser, is a poem that is all at once about what the title suggests, but also about how so much of what we experience is interconnected and tied together by light.

Night Songs was commissioned by David Neal and made possible, in part, with funding from The Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.