song cycle for voice and piano; 17′ (2005)
poetry by Emily Dickinson
(commissioned by Julia Faulkner)
1. Wild Nights!
2. A Quiet Way
3. Bring Me The Sunset
4. Heart! We Will Forget Him!
5. I Reason
6. The Silent End
7. After Great Pain
“Heart! We Will Forget Him!” performed by Julia Faulkner, soprano and Scott Gendel, piano:
I wrote “Forgotten Light” in the summer of 2005 for Julia Faulkner, after she requested some songs on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In my work as a vocal coach and pianist, I’ve worked with Julia quite a lot, and I jumped at the chance to write for her gorgeous voice, and to delve into Dickinson’s body of work. I wanted to approach Dickinson’s poetry with fresh eyes, without being too influenced by the enormous body of musical work based on her poetry. What I discovered in Dickinson’s “Complete Poems” was a wealth of virtually unknown poetry, much of it surprisingly dark. And then, even some of Dickinson’s more well-known poems struck me as quite bleak when viewed on the page. I had learned her poem “Heart! We Will Forget Him!” based on the beautiful Aaron Copland setting, but when I re-read the poem carefully, I saw anger and frustration in its words. Emily Dickinson had a penchant for excessive exclamation points and emphatic capital letters that give her poems a raw visual power, and that power inspired my music to veer towards the intensely passionate. So, “Forgotten Light” begins with love songs, but soon turns towards darkness and heartache, letting Dickinson’s poetry carry this song cycle from a place of passionate love through the end of a romantic relationship, and into loss and mourning.