Spring SONGS

for Tenor and Piano

Written: 2018
Duration: ca. 20'
Instrumentation: tenor and piano
Commissioned by Rick Teller
World PremiereAmerican Modern EnsembleAlok Kumar, tenor, Geoffrey Burleson, piano, Weill Recital Hall | Carnegie Hall, New York, NY, April 26, 2018.
PublisherBill Holab Music

Sheet Music for Tenor and Piano Version Available February 15, 2019


Spring Songs for tenor and chamber ensemble or piano is my third song cycle celebrating the seasons. As with the first two, Winter Songs for bass-baritone and Summer Songs for soprano, this cycle contains settings of poems by various American poets.

Whereas both Winter Songs and Summer Songs end with scenes in New York City, Spring Songs begins with New York: a setting of English Sparrows (Washington Square) by Edna St. Vincent Millay, a poem about about a scene that takes place in the morning in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in New York City where Millay lived in the early 1900s. The second movement is s setting of April 5, 1974 by Richard Wilbur, a poem about Wilbur wrote in honor of Robert Frost’s one-hundredth birthday, and I interpret as being about overcoming self-doubt through wisdom, and also about understanding the change of seasons, but also a change of mind. The third movement, Done With by Ann Stanford, I interpret to be about death and rebirth, and is symbolized by a house being torn down and the ground paved over, and the now suffocated plant life yearning to break through. The Widow’s Lament in Springtime, the fourth movement, is a setting of a poem by William Carlos Williams, and I interpret as a modernist, pastoral elegy that uses images of nature to lament the death of a loved one. The final movement, a setting of the poem Spring Rain by Sara Teasdale, is about a happy memory of a lover brought about by an evening thunderstorm.

Spring Songs was commissioned by Rick Teller and was premiered at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall by the American Modern Ensemble, Alok Kumar, tenor, and Geoffrey Burleson, piano