J.Scott of Amwell, W. Blake, J. Marston, A.E> Housman, R.Eberhart, J. Hollander, Shakespeare, Landor, E. Barrett Browning, Borges, R. Jarrell, M. Rukeyser (E)
Bennett-Gordon Hall, Chicago, Illinois
Kevin Greenlaw/ Lisa Shihoten, violinist/ Amy Sue Barston, cello/ Hsing-ay Hsu, piano, baritone / Ravinia Festival
In the wake of the September 11th shock, I asked what a thousand other composers must have asked: what is the point of music now? But it soon grew clear that music was the only point. Indeed, the future will judge us, as it always judges the past, by our art more than by our armies—by construction more than by destruction. The art, no matter its theme or language, by definition reflects the time: a waltz in a moment of tragedy, or a dirge during prosperity, may come into focus only a century later.
My need though, as I pondered this instantly and forever changed world—with the Twin Towers in ruins and the Middle East in sorrow—was to reflect the immediate through the choice of texts to be used for this project for Ravinia. A week earlier I might have opted for a whole different slant.
As a Quaker I was raised to believe that there is no alternative to peace. Perhaps it's wrong, perhaps right, but I am not ashamed of this belief. As with war, so with love. Seven decades of observation has shown that love has as many definitions as there are definers. Having lost a great love three years ago, my mood at the close of my life is one of quizzical melancholy. As to whether that mood seems reflected in these songs is not for me to say here in words. Music speaks for itself.
New York, Nantucket
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.