Commissioned by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for the Inaugural Year at Civic Center with generous funding from the Fleishhacker Foundation
Thomas Traherne, Carol Ann Duffy, Engelbert Humperdinck, American Traditional Spiritual
28 January 2007
Hila Plitmann, soprano; Axel Strauss, violin; Gyan Riley, guitar; Aaron Jay Kernis, piano
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, CA
I. The Salutation Thomas Traherne
II. The Light Gatherer Carol Ann Duffy
III. Double Lullaby Engelbert Humperdinck and traditional
Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby, a song cycle for high soprano, violin, guitar obbligato and piano was written in 2006 to commemorate the opening of the new concert hall at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This cycle of three songs is dedicated to my beloved twins, Jonah and Delphine, who are now nearly four years old. The work was composed with the exceptional talents of dear friends Hila Plitmann, Axel Strauss and David Tanenbaum in mind.
I. "The Salutation," a text by the little-known English Metaphysical poet and clergyman Thomas Traherne (1636-74), is a meditation on the rise of consciousness from nothingness, the mysteries of existence and infinite glories of being. It begins with bell-like sounds in the piano and guitar and uses these sounds transformed throughout the movement.
II. In "The Light Gatherer," English writer Carol Ann Duffy (one of my very favorite living poets b.1955, Glasgow) presents her young daughter infused with light and color in myriad ways, with a beautiful realization of the exuberance of childhood and the delight in witnessing growth and change.
III. "Double Lullaby" is a gentle, lyrical song which intertwines the soprano and violin in duet. I've placed two well-known texts alongside each other the words in English from Englebert Humperdinck's "Lullaby" from Hansel and Gretel (which treats the word "two" like a touchstone), and "Angels Watching Over Me," a traditional American spiritual.
N.B.: This work may be performed with or without guitar. If performed without guitar, the small notes included in various measures should be played.
Aaron Jay Kernis