NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble; Dominick DiOrio, director
Elise Marie Kennedy, soprano; Mason Copeland, graduate conductor
Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble Emerging Composers Competition 2013
The poetry of Amy Lowell is strking: vivid, present, words chosen with such care, as she paints an aural picture of her imagining. This setting of "Absence" is no different, as it explores the awakening of one's passions by the arrival of a before-absent lover. I paint this internal exultation with glissandi in the voices, richly-harmonized chords on "Heart's blood for your drinking", and the high chromatic ululations of a solo soprano.
My cup is empty to-night,
Cold and dry are its sides,
Chilled by the wind from the open window.
Empty and void, it sparkles white in the moonlight.
The room is filled with the strange scent
Of wistaria blossoms.
They sway in the moon's radiance
And tap against the wall.
But the cup of my heart is still,
And cold, and empty.
When you come, it brims
Red and trembling with blood,
Heart's blood for your drinking;
To fill your mouth with love
And the bitter-sweet taste of a soul.
"Absence" is dedicated to Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble and their artistic director, James John. The work was the first-prize winner in their inaugural Emerging Composer's Competition and was premiered in Brooklyn and Manhattan in March 2013.