The Call Across the Valley of Not-Knowing (2016)
A dramatic song cycle for soprano, baritone, clarinet, cello and piano
Duration 35 minutes
Commissioned by VisionInto Art and made possible by the Jerome Foundation
World Premier at National Sawdust as part of Razaz’s composer-in-residence full-evening concert.
Request score and parts
Review of the world premiere:
“The Call Across the Valley of Not-Knowing …movements flow artfully into one another, each with a distinct form and flavor…The strength of character in this music first declares itself with an unexpected half-step rise in the melody of the first poem…The Call Across the Valley of Not-Knowing is an exciting piece that asks for sustained attention and offers many rewards…” -Blog Critics
The Call Across the Valley of Not-Knowing is a dramatic song cycle based on poems extracted from chapter seven of The Book of Nightmares by Galway Kinnell. The poems conjure a distorted image of love and the idea of soulmates. They tell a non-linear story about finding and inevitably losing one’s soulmate, against the backdrop of a rooted, current relationship. Kinnell’s poetry often embraces the destructiveness and shortcomings of humanity. In these chosen poems one is constantly reminded of the mortality of all things human, including love.
Six distinct poems are set to music in one large movement without any pause between songs. Being aware of Kinnell’s remarkable thematic structure, I treated these poems as fragments of a non-linear plot with distinct characters (a man, his pregnant wife, and his soul mate) and an emotionally charged
story filled with clear dramatic beats — much like an opera. I have formatted the poems into a libretto-like script,
preserving Kinnell’s original order and language, and only occasionally omitting phrases for the purpose of clarity.