From Christina's Diary (2017-2019)
for Tenor and Piano
Composed March 2017 - January 2019
Commissioned by Voces Intimae
Premiered June 9, 2019
Matthew Corcoran, Tenor; Brian Bentley, Piano
Text of the composition based on the poetry of Christina Rossetti
I conceived the idea for ‘From Christina’s Diary’ in the summer of 2018 in the composition class at the Brevard Music Center, when I received an assignment to set Christina Rossetti’s ‘De Profundis’ to music. When I did that, I also had another Rossetti setting, ‘Who Has Seen The Wind’, left from a previous assignment. Upon receiving the opportunity from Voce Intimae, I immediately sought out 3 more poems and set those as well, giving a final shape to my new song cycle. The challenge with setting Christina Rossetti’s poems lies in the imagery that is present in poems, leading me to create a lot of tone painting (listen for the echoes of tones at the beginning of ‘Echo’). I exploit the full range of the solo tenor, ranging from the innocent childlike timbre of pure tone to the emotional color of the high notes to the booming notes in the low range to represent death himself.
The song cycle is dedicated to Karen Moyer, who coincidentally was born as snow was falling (as per the first stanza of ‘A Dirge’).