vanitas (2018)

Duration: 15:00 minutes

Instrumentation: voice and piano

Premiere:  February 13, 2019 at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall by Joélle Harvey, soprano and Allen Perriello, piano


Vanitas is a genre of still-life painting that includes imagery representing the transience and fragility of human life and worldly pursuits. Skulls are often included in these paintings, as an obvious image of death, but I became fascinated by some of the other more subtle images: candles, moths or butterflies, timepieces, feathers, picked flowers, and books. In selecting the text for this cycle, I found seven poems that focus on one or more of these images, the complete song cycle forming a kind of musical-poetic still life.