Alley Cat Love Song

 
Published by Santa Barbara Music Press
as part of the Sharon Hansen Choral Series
Catalog # SBMP737
 

SSA/piano
Secular text in English by Dana Gioia
Difficulty rating (1-5): 2.5
Duration: 4:30

 
 listen to Alley Cat Love Song

P
erformed by the Milwaukee Choral Artists,
Sharon Hansen, director

This piece was commissioned by Jim Yarbrough, director of the Naperville North High School choral program, and one my earliest supporters. Since Jim has a jazz background (and he also was bass section leader under Margaret Hillis at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus!) I decided to write him something jazzy and bluesy. I found this wonderfully sly text by Dana Gioia and set about having some fun with it.

Musically the piece goes back and forth between a lyrical, “night music” quasi- Debussy stereotypical impressionist feel (hopefully pianists will smile a bit when they notice an actual Debussy quote in the piano intro) and the jazz/blues sections. The ending plays around with different ways of saying the boy cat’s name, “Fred”, including purring/rolling the r sound. I even had an excuse to include one of my favorite Ravel chords in this piece (a pretty pungent V chord with a flat 9 and a sharp 11). It’s a chord Ravel uses in pieces like the Piano Concerto and his other jazz influenced music.

 

 

 

 


TEXT

Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head .
I'll wait by the screen door till dawn.

The fireflies court in the sweetgum tree.
The nightjar calls from the pine,
And she seems to say in her rhapsody,
"Oh, mustard-brown Fred, be mine!"
The full moon lights my whiskers afire,
And the fur goes erect on my spine.

I hear the frogs in the muddy lake
Croaking from shore to shore.
They've one swift season to soothe their ache.
In autumn they sing no more.
So ignore me now, and you'll hear my meow
As I scratch all night at the door.

 

   

  

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