was premiered by the
directed by Brett
American writer Stephen Crane is of course
famous for his novel The Red Badge of Courage. His poetry is
often quite dark, and unfortunately, a bit preachy, in my
opinion. Each small gleam was a voice is a different
Crane-- it is a simple, beautiful poetic canvas,
describing nature in a gorgeous way. It certainly calls out
for a musical setting I believe. Crane wrote prolifically in
his short life, he was just 28 when he passed away. This
poem is form his book of poetry War is kind & other lines,
published in 1899.
In my setting, there are two elements I
decided to use consciously, a fair amount of chromaticism
and hints of polytonality (especially in the piano part) to
paint the picture of all the colors of the spectrum Crane
talks about. The second element is use of a lot of unison
(or octave work) in the voices. This unison vocal work is
often layered over the chromatic piano part to create
tension and an odd starkness in the voices.
I would like to thank Brett Scott for
artistically interpreting this piece when he premiered it
with the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble in Spring 2009.
Complete perusal score available upon request.
TEXT by Stephen Crane
Each small gleam was a
A lantern voice --
In little songs of carmine, violet,
A chorus of colours came over the water;
The wondrous leaf-shadow no longer
No pines crooned on the hills,
The blue night was elsewhere a silence,
When the chorus of colours came over the
Little songs of carmine, violet, green,
Small glowing pebbles
Thrown on the dark plane of evening
Sing good ballads of God
And eternity, with soul's rest.
Little priests, little holy fathers,
None can doubt the truth of your
When the marvellous chorus comes over
Songs of carmine, violet, green, gold.