(text: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) two songs for high voice and percussion; 10’(2016) (commissioned by the Virginia Tech School of Music & Brian Thorsett)
1. The Tides 2. My Cathedral
composer's note: I'm always amazed at how a single percussionist can create a whole world of sound, becoming something like an orchestra unto themselves. When Brian Thorsett asked me to write some songs he could perform with the incredible percussionist Annie Stevens, I couldn't help but think about all the colorful possibilities and sound-worlds these songs could inhabit. I chose Wordsworth poems because of their vivid text-painting, the ways in which they created a strong sense of atmosphere that lends itself so well to a voice & percussion setting.
The first song, "The Tides," is centered around vibraphone, with other primarily metallic instruments surrounding it. The gentle movements of water and wind in this poem are portrayed with various colors, from fluctuations in the vibraphone motor speed to LITERAL wind (as the singer is asked to blow onto a set of metal wind chimes). The second song "My Cathedral" is centered around marimba, with other primarily wooden instruments surrounding it. Wordsworth's poetry here focuses on the forest, and the sounds of woodblocks and rumbling marimba tremolos evoke that scene vividly. Overall, the voice and percussion work together to create colorful, bold scenes that illuminate Wordsworth's reverence for nature through poetry, texture, and movement.