Duration: 14:00 minutes
Instrumentation: soprano and piano
Premiere: October 3, 2008 in Terrance Park, OH by Joelle Harvey, soprano and Allen Perriello, piano
Moonsongs is based on seven poems by Carl Sandburg. Carl Sandburg wrote a number of poems that mention the moon – sometimes as the focus of the poem, sometimes as a peripheral image. But the ones I chose for this set focused on other recurring themes as well: loneliness, dreams, and memory to name a few. The imagery and haunting mood of these poems came together in my mind to form the image of a character, alone, half-mad and half-asleep between dream and reality, singing to the moon and at times imagining the moon singing back.
Each of the eight movements is relatively short – some movements no more than brief flashes of sound. In several songs, the vocalist is asked to not only sing, but also whistle and hum as well, to lend a “voice” to the wordless song of the moon.
The title comes from another poem of Carl Sandburg, called “Silver Wind,” in which he writes:
And another long breath for the silver soprano melody of the moon songs
in the light nights when the earth is lighter than a feather,
the iron mountains lighter than a goose down-