ELYSIAN FIELDS

ensemble: mezzo-soprano, oboe, and string quartet
duration: 12 minutes
written: spring - summer 2016
written for: Brevard Music Center
premiered: summer 2016; Brevard, NC

For the last year or so, I’ve been delving deep into the Bach Cantatas. After a series of events in my life, I decided that giving myself a sort of musical project would help me focus on some sort of over arching goal. When planning a new work for the Brevard Music Center, I decided to create a work that would function as both a dramatic song cycle and a secular (or perhaps sacred) cantata. Additionally, like in the Bach cantatas, I wanted to find text that dealt with a theme that concerns an element of living. 

In my process of searching for text, I kept returning to the poetry of Louise Glück. For me, her poetry takes a some what literal and pessimistic look at universal truths. In her two books, Vita Nova and Meadowlands, Glück takes a contemporary stance on the Orpheus and Odysseus stories respectively. Both stories and corresponding poems concern loss; loss of life, loss of love, etc. 

The two poems in this cycle deal with different stories and different ways of losing a person; the first concerns that loss of life in the Orpheus myth. After making the fatal error, Orpheus loses his love Eurydice for the second time, sending her back to Hell. The second concerns the loss of a loved one choosing to leave, in this case, Kalypso watching Odysseus leave her island.    

LISTEN: 

performers: Melanie Burblues, mezzo-soprano; Amelia Merriman, oboe; Anna Bishop, violin; Sarah Berger, violin; Amanda Hamilton, viola; Monica Grady, 'cello