for soprano and piano; 4′ (2007)
poetry: Emily Dickinson
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“The Saddest Noise” was written during the rehearsal process for “Across a Distance”, the unusual music theatre work I wrote for soprano Julia Faulkner and Deaf actor Robert Schleifer. In preparing to create that piece, and talking about how a brilliant musical performer who doesn’t speak ASL might make art with a brilliant ASL actor who can’t hear that musical performance, we played with many different ideas and concepts. One day, Julia brought in this Emily Dickinson poem, which features the incredible line: “An ear can break a human heart as quickly as a spear. / We wish the ear had not a heart so dangerously near.” I immediately had to set it to music for Julia to perform, and this song, full of birdsong and pathos, was the result.