work details

Cuckoo, Cuckoo

  • Instrumentation: SATB a cappella
  • Completed: January 2016
  • Duration: 3 minutes
  • Texts: William Shakespeare, from "Love's Labour's Lost" Act V, Scene ii
  • Video:
    • Cuckoo Cuckoo

      Six Degree Singers
      Rachel Carlson, conductor

  • Audio:
  • Commission and Dedication:

    Commissioned by the Kansas City Chorale and their artistic director Charles Bruffy,
    and with gratitude to ACFEA Tour Consultants and Chorus America.

  • Published:

    G. Schirmer (Rollo Dilworth Choral Series)

  • Composer's Note:

    Cuckoo, Cuckoo is a jaunty little work on a text from William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of his earliest comedies. The tongue-in-cheek text talks of married life and the woe that comes from being unable to pursue the frolicsome fruits of Spring:

    When daisies pied and violets blue
          And lady-smocks all silver-white
    And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
          Do paint the meadows with delight,
    The cuckoo then, on every tree,
    Mocks married men; for thus sings he: 
                                                        “Cuckoo;
    Cuckoo, cuckoo!” O, word of fear,
    Unpleasing to a married ear!

    When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
          And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
    When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
          And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
    The cuckoo then, on every tree,
    Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
                                                        “Cuckoo;
    Cuckoo, cuckoo!” O, word of fear,
    Unpleasing to a married ear!


    The commissioning of this work for the Kansas City Chorale and Charles Bruffy was made possible by Hugh Davies and ACFEA Tour Consultants. During the Chorus America Annual Conference in Boston in June 2015, I granted a new commissioned work to the highest bidder at the annual auction, and Hugh Davies, successfully bidding for it, thereby gifted it to Charles and his Chorale. It is lovingly dedicated to Hugh, Charles, and Chorus America.

  • Performances:
    • May 1, 2016 (premiere)
      Kansas City Chorale
      Charles Bruffy, director 
      Asbury United Methodist Church - Prairie Village, KS
    • May 3, 2016 (premiere)
      Kansas City Chorale
      Charles Bruffy, director
      Unity Temple on the Plaza - Kansas City, MO
    • April 26, 2017
      Northern Illinois University Chamber Choir
      Eric Johnson, conductor
      Boutell Memorial Concert Hall - Northern Illinois University - Dekalb, IL
    • June 2, 2017
      Bay Choral Guild
      Sanford Dole, artistic director
      Campbell United Methodist Church - Campbell, CA
    • June 3, 2017
      Bay Choral Guild
      Sanford Dole, artistic director
      All Saints Episcopal Church - Palo Alto, CA
    • June 3, 2017
      Six Degree Singers
      Rachel Carlson, conductor
      Rockville United Church - Rockville, MD
    • June 4, 2017
      Bay Choral Guild
      Sanford Dole, artistic director
      St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church - San Francisco, CA
    • June 4, 2017
      Six Degree Singers
      Rachel Carlson, conductor
      Hughes United Methodist Church - Wheaton, MD
    • October 26, 2017
      University of Indianapolis Schola
      Paul Krasnovsky, conductor
      University of Indianapolis - Indianapolis, IN