work details

Leave My Heart Its Songs

  • Instrumentation: SSA chorus, 2 violins, viola, and piano
  • Completed: June 2014
  • Duration: 6 minutes
  • Texts: "To a friend", Amy Lowell (1874-1925), from A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass
  • Video:
    • Leave My Heart Its Songs

      Smith College Chorus; Joseph Baldwin, conductor
      Sarah Briggs & Allyson Michal, violins; Anna Wetherby, viola; Grant Moss, piano

    • Leave My Heart Its Songs

      Smith College Chorus - Joseph Baldwin
      Click to purchase

  • Audio:
    • Leave My Heart Its Songs (premiere performance)

      Smith College Chorus; Joseph Baldwin, conductor
      Sarah Briggs & Allyson Michal, violins; Anna Wetherby, viola; Grant Moss, piano

  • Commission / Dedication:

    Commissioned by and dedicated to the Smith College Chorus
    Joseph Baldwin, conductor

  • Published:

    G. Schirmer / Dale Warland Choral Series (click to purchase)

  • Program Note:

    Leave My Heart Its Songs is a setting of a sonnet (“To a friend”) taken from Amy Lowell’s collection A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass. This particular collection of poetry has resonated with me on many levels, and it has been the source for much of my recent choral music. When Joseph Baldwin spoke to me about his desire for a beautiful new work for the Smith College Chorus, I immediately went back to Lowell for inspiration.

    The text is evocative and desperate, almost cynical, but it speaks of a real fear one finds in relationship: that the person one trusts and knows may one day change course as love and passion wither. Lowell’s expression is one of adolescent dreaming, “O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!” While it is perhaps a dream viewed through rose-coloured glasses, I cannot help but marvel at the fervor with which Lowell clings to this child-like illusion of permanence. It is the most natural naïvete: who among us has not wished for a passionate night that might never end?

    This work was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Smith College Chorus and their conductor­—and my dear friend—Joseph Baldwin.

  • Text:

    (Amy Lowell, "To a friend"):

    I ask but one thing of you, only one, 
            That always you will be my dream of you; 
            That never shall I wake to find untrue 
        All this I have believed and rested on, 
        Forever vanished, like a vision gone 
            Out into the night. Alas, how few 
            There are who strike in us a chord we knew 
        Existed, but so seldom heard its tone 
            We tremble at the half-forgotten sound. 
        The world is full of rude awakenings 
            And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground, 
        Yet still our human longing vainly clings 
            To a belief in beauty through all wrongs. 
            O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!

  • Performances:
    • November 15, 2014 (premiere)
      Smith College Chorus
      Joseph Baldwin, conductor 
      Smith College - Northampton, MA
    • March 31, 2015
      Hollins Univeristy Concert Choir & Chamber Singers
      Shelbie L. Wahl-Fouts, conductor
      Hollins University duPont Chapel - Roanoke, VA
    • August 9, 2015
      Interlochen Singers
      Gregory Ristow, conductor
      Kresge Auditorium - Interlochen Center for the Arts - Interlochen, MI