Four Dickinson Songs

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Four Dickinson Songs


for voice and piano on poetry of Emily Dickinson (2014)

  • Premiere: 15 July 2014 / Goodheart Hall, the Music Room, Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia, PA / Lyric Fest / Joseph Gaines, tenor / Laura Ward, piano
  • Duration: 7'
  • Dedication: "Commissioned by Lyric Fest of Philadelphia, 2014, for Laura Ward."
  • Instrumentation: voice, piano
  1. Of All the Souls
  2. A Dying Eye
  3. If You Were Coming
  4. Wild Nights

Jeffrey Halili and Laura Ward perform "Wild Nights."

Program notes

At loose ends in January 1993, I began a cycle of Emily Dicksinson songs. I finished two settings, If You Were Coming and Wild Nights, put them in a drawer, and completely forgot about them. Two decades later, in fall 2013, Laura Ward of the Philadelphia ensemble Lyric Fest reached out to me to ask for a handful of Dickinson settings to round out a program called "Dear March -- Come In! -- American Women Poets in Song" she was putting together. Relishing the opportunity to pull two songs from the trunk and to festoon them with two brand new ones, I looked in my files. Success! I made two new settings -- A Dying Eye and Of All the Souls -- that I thought would work well with the ones already at hand, revised the old ones, and placed them together. The result is a group, not a cycle, of songs. All deal with my favorite song subject: love.

The group as a whole was commissioned by Lyric Fest with the help of a generous gift from Lauren and Craig Meyer. It is dedicated to Laura Ward. Laura and Jeffrey Halili premiered the songs on 15 July 2014 as part of a concert by Lyric Fest in the music room of Goodheart Hall on the Bryn Mawr campus in Philadelphia.

(Banner photo: Suzanne DuPlantis and Laura Ward, Co-Artistic Directors of Lyric Fest.)