for tenor and piano
|Instrumentation:||Tenor and piano|
|Instrumentation:||Tenor and piano|
|Poems by:||Amy Lowell|
|Written for:||Joe Dan Harper and Anne Kissel Harper|
|Commissioned by:||The Florestan Recital Project with grant from the St. Botolph Club|
3 May, 2003
Boston, MA, United States
Joe Dan Harper, tenor
Anne Kissel Harper, piano
|Poems included:||1. The Painted Ceiling |
2. The Traut
3. The Crescent Moon
5. The Pleiades
Tenor and Piano
Amy Lowell’s verses for children brought up many flashbacks from my childhood – a period of exploring, discovering and achieving little victories which we as adults take for granted. My approach, while composing the songs was to shift constantly between the way a child and an adult would view the given situation. The music tries to portray the psychological state of the poems’ hero and sometimes uses an over-dramatic statement, just like a kid would experience the situation. Sometimes on the other hand, things are softened, as viewed through the glasses of an adult. A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass was commissioned by Joe Dan Harper and Anne Kissel Harper and was made possible by a grant from the St. Botolph Club Foundation.
Dome of Many-Coloured Glass
Five Poems by Amy Lowell
The Painted Ceiling
My Grandpapa lives in a wonderful house
With a great many windows and doors,
There are stairs that go up, and stairs that go down,
And such beautiful, slippery floors.
But of all the rooms, even mother’s and mine,
And the bookroom, and parlour and all,
I like the green dining-room so much the best
Because of its ceiling and wall.
Right over your head is a funny round hole
With apples and pears falling through;
There’s a big bunch of grapes all purply and sweet,
And melons and pineapples too.
They tumble and tumble, but never come down
Though I’ve stood underneath a long while
With my mouth open wide, for I always have hoped
Just a cherry would drop from the pile.
No matter how early I run there to look
It has always begun to fall through;
And one night when at bedtime I crept in to see,
It was falling by candle-light too.
I am sure they are magical fruits, and each one
Makes you hear things, or see things, or go
Forever invisible; but it’s no use,
And of course I shall just never know.
For the ladder’s too heavy to lift, and the chairs
Are not nearly so tall as I need.
I’ve given up hope, and I feel I shall die
Without having accomplished the deed.
It’s a little bit sad, when you seem very near
To adventures and things of that sort,
Which nearly begin, and then don’t; and you know
It is only because you are short.
Naughty little speckled trout,
Can’t I coax you to come out?
Is it such great fun to play
In the water every day?
Do you pull the Naiads’ hair
Hiding in the lilies there?
Do you hunt for fishes’ eggs,
Or watch tadpoles grow their legs?
Do the little trouts have school
In some deep sun-glinted pool,
And in recess play at tag
Round that bed of purple flag?
I have tried so hard to catch you,
Hours and hours I’ve sat to watch you;
But you never will come out,
Naughty little speckled trout!
The Crescent Moon
Slipping softly through the sky
Little horned, happy moon,
Can you hear me up so high?
Will you come down soon?
On my nursery window-sill
Will you stay your steady flight?
And then float away with me
Through the summer night?
Brushing over tops of trees,
Playing hide and seek with stars,
Peeping up through shiny clouds
At Jupiter or Mars.
I shall fill my lap with roses
Gathered in the milky way,
All to carry home to mother.
Oh! what will she say!
Little rocking, sailing moon,
Do you hear me shout — Ahoy!
Just a little nearer, moon,
To please a little boy.
High up in the apple tree climbing I go,
With the sky above me, the earth below.
Each branch is the step of a wonderful stair
Which leads to the town I see shining up there.
Climbing, climbing, higher and higher,
The branches blow and I see a spire,
The gleam of a turret, the glint of a dome,
All sparkling and bright, like white sea foam.
On and on, from bough to bough,
The leaves are thick, but I push my way through;
Before, I have always had to stop,
But to-day I am sure I shall reach the top.
Today to the end of the marvelous stair,
Where those glittering pinacles flash in the air!
Climbing, climbing, higher I go,
With the sky close above me, the earth far below.
By day you cannot see the sky
For it is up so very high.
You look and look, but it’s so blue
That you can never see right through.
But when night comes it is quite plain,
And all the stars are there again.
They seem just like old friends to me,
I’ve known them all my life you see.
There is the dipper first, and there
Is Cassiopeia in her chair,
Orion’s belt, the Milky Way,
And lots I know but cannot say.
One group looks like a swarm of bees,
Papa says they’re the Pleiades;
But I think they must be the toy
Of some nice little angel boy.
Perhaps his jackstones which to-day
He has forgot to put away,
And left them lying on the sky
Where he will find them bye and bye.
I wish he’d come and play with me.
We’d have such fun, for it would be
A most unusual thing for boys
To feel that they had stars for toys!