two soprano songs

two soprano songs (1982)
for soprano and piano
Dan Locklair

two soprano songs was not originally conceived of as a song cycle. Instead, each of the two songs was written in 1982 as gifts to two sopranos at different academic institutions of higher learning on which we both served together as faculty members. The second, Brooks, was composed for Hartwick College soprano, Mary Anne Ross, and is based on a 1648 poem written by Robert Herrick entitled, I Sing of Brooks. The poem is found in the introduction to Herrick’s volume, Hesperides. There’s a Certain Slant of Light, based on an 1861 poem by Emily Dickinson, was composed for my Wake Forest University colleague, soprano Teresa Radomski. It received its World Premiere by Ms. Radomski, accompanied by pianist, Louis Goldstein, on 17 February 1983 at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art on a program devoted to the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

1. There’s A Certain Slant of Light

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the Seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
Emily Dickinson

2. Brooks

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, hock carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness.
I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece,
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of times trans shifting, and I write
How roses first came red, and lilies white.
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab, and of the fairy king.
I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all.
Robert Herrick

Duration : 1. ca. 3′ 30″ 2. ca. 1′ 30″ = ca. 5′ total