work details


  • Instrumentation: SATB (divisi) a cappella
  • Completed: February 2011
  • Duration: 4 minutes
  • Texts: Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
  • Video:
    • Absence

      NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble; Dominick DiOrio, director
      Elise Marie Kennedy, soprano; Mason Copeland, graduate conductor

  • Score Preview:
  • Published:

    G. Schirmer, Craig Hella Johnson Choral Series (click to purchase)

  • First Prize Winner:

    Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble Emerging Composers Competition 2013

  • Program Note:

    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.

  • Performances:
    • March 2, 2013
      Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble
      James John, artistic director
      The Oratory of St. Boniface - Brooklyn - New York, NY
    • March 9, 2013
      Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble
      James John, artistic director
      St. Patrick's Old Cathedral - New York, NY
    • February 27, 2014
      American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Central Division Conference
      "Thirty Something: New Choral Music by Today's Hottest Young Composers"
      Dominick DiOrio, presenter and conductor
      NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, demonstration choir
      The Hilton Hotel - Cincinnati, OH
    • March 11, 2014
      "Hot Off the Press: Freshly-Minted New Works for Voices"
      NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble
      Dominick DiOrio, conductor
      Indiana University Jacobs School of Music - Auer Hall - Bloomington, IN
    • February 22, 2015
      Choral Arts Initiative
      Brandon Elliott, conductor
      St. Mark Presbyterian Church - Newport Beach, CA