This setting of Emily Dickinson’s short poem is an excerpt from my 1996 piece Cycle of Friends for soprano solo, chorus and chamber orchestra. This video perusal score features the premiere performance by the Music Group of Philadelphia, conducted by Seán Deibler in May, 1996.
“Are Friends Delight or Pain” is now available as a stand-alone piece in octavo format from Swirly Music.
This off-beat little a cappella piece was written many, many years ago (1991, to be exact). It is an earnest and faithful setting of a very silly poem by my friend Will T. Laughlin. It happens to be very difficult to learn and perform, with a lot of meter changes, asymmetrical rhythms and odd, modal harmony, so over the years I’ve stopped thinking of it as a piece I ought to be promoting among choruses, and it has never been performed until now.
Among the people I did send it to, all those years ago, was Magen Solomon, conductor of the award-winning and extremely capable San Francisco Choral Artists. This year, out of the blue, the piece was added to their “Poetry on Musical Wings” program. Delighted by this unlikely stroke of luck, I quickly revised the piece to make it more suitable for performance, and they gave this wonderful, nuanced premiere performance.
My approach to this surreal and brilliantly goofy poem was to treat it as if it were Shakespeare and treat the musical setting with utmost, deadpan seriousness. I hope you enjoy hearing the piece with the appropriately silly video montage below!
“Roll the Tide” is a short, a cappella quasi-spiritual excerpted from the larger work Waiting…, based on poems by Elisabeth T. Eliassen.
In the “video perusal score” below, you can follow the score as you hear its premiere performance by the 2011 Kodály Summer Institute Chorus at Holy Names University, conducted by László Matos.
“Roll the Tide” is available in octavo format from Swirly Music.