In writing Pensive I wanted to create a setting that would allow the Whitman poem to be communicated as clearly as possible. The words themselves are so highly charged with emotional content that I wanted to contrast this with a more detached and distant response on the part of the choir. Although the addition of the solo mezzo-soprano adds more urgency to the music, the overall effect is still intended to be more of noble commentary than of over-wrought lamentation. Similarly, the organ or orchestra serves to accompany without necessarily adding further musical argument or material, and to surround the choir and soloist with a warm halo of sound.
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer