for soprano voice, flute, viola and harp
In my new-found desire to tell stories through music, I really wanted to try my hand at another set of songs. Per usual, I approached my poet friend, Leah Soderberg, to inquire about getting another set of poems from her for this purpose, but this ultimately proved to be poor timing due to events within her own life. It was now my task to come up with text that told a story that could be amplified through music—an hugely horrifying prospect for me.
While searching for the story, I was exposed to the paintings of Reid Richardson, an artist residing in Arizona. His catalogue consists heavily of images of clouds and trees—often combined—in subtle variations. Given the expansiveness of the catalogue, my assumption was that I could find a story of images or at least a progression that could be twisted into a story. Luckily, my assumption proved to be true, and I was able to create a progression through the following paintings from Reid’s gallery:
So then I had my “story” of sorts, but still no text. The next step was digging through anthologies of poetry, aimlessly searching for some textual context between the story I derived from Reid’s paintings. Given the vast amount of poetry in the world, it was pure coincidence that not only did I find six poems that supported the interpretation of the paintings, but also that they were all public domain. Four of the poems came from the same anthology of Emily Dickinson works, and the last two came from collections of early works by Robert Frost and Sara Teasdale. The benefit to this arrangement is that the Dickinson provides a strong, present link across the songs, while the Frost and Teasdale offer a point of contrast and alternate color due to their use of language.
After all of this, I still have no clue what the actual story is that I wanted to tell, but I do feel like the combination of all of these elements fused together a compelling progression of life and death, loss and rebirth, and eternal wonderment of the subtleties in our world.