for SSAA choir; 6′ (2001)
poetry: Dorothy Parker
(commissioned by the Madison Children’s Choir)
performed by the Madison Youth Choirs:
buy the score:
When I was approached by the Madison Children’s Choir about writing a challenging work for a high-school age women’s chorus, my first thought was about what text high school girls might enjoy singing. So I immediately thought of Dorothy Parker and her acerbic wit. So much of the music for women’s choir that is frequently performed takes advantage of the beauty and purity of that sound, presenting unerringly “nice” music. Thinking back to my friends in high school, I thought they would enjoy something less sweet, more sour. Dorothy Parker’s “Love Song” gives me the best of both worlds: I get to take advantage of the beautiful sound of women’s voices when portraying the flowery language with which Parker describes “my own true love,” and then the singers get to rip that all to shreds with the sarcastic quips peppered throughout the song.
My musical language for this piece is inspired by English folk song, but in a more romantic, over-the-top style. In this way, the choir presents a lovely, open-hearted sonic world that draws the listener in before delivering its punchlines. Parker’s dry wit feels just as applicable to adult life as to high school life, and no matter the age of the singers performing “Love Song,” I’ve enjoyed seeing the devilish grins of the performers as they dig into those cynical barbs at the end of each verse.