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Three Flower Songs

When I first arrived at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas in the fall of 1988, I was astonished to find that there was no degree program offered for future pop stars. At the time I was interested only in synthesizers and Depeche Mode, and so I auditioned as a music major because it seemed the best thing to do before I hit the big time.

And then I joined the choir.

David Weiller, the choral conductor at UNLV, auditioned me to sing in one of his groups and graciously accepted me into the big University chorus. I distinctly remember how weird I thought the choir people were, with their embarrassing stretches and warm-ups, and undoubtedly the only reason I stayed in class that first week was because there were so many cute girls in the soprano section.

And the first piece we sang was the Mozart Requiem.

It was like seeing color for the first time, and I was regularly moved to tears during rehearsals, crushed by the impossible beauty of the work. I became a choral geek of the highest magnitude, I mean I lived for rehearsals and performances, and through it all there was David Weiller. The man is simply a brilliant educator and a fantastic musician, that one special teacher that ends up changing the entire course of your life.

I was accepted into the advanced choir in my 2nd year. David has this beautiful tradition of programming a different setting of Go, Lovely Rose every year with that choir, and after my first year in that group I decided to write him a setting that would be all his own. We performed it the next year (1991), and in the spring of 1992 we concluded our program at the Western Regional ACDA convention in Hawaii with my music. My very first concert piece! And just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, Barbara Harlow of Santa Barbara Music found me after the performance and told me that she would like to publish the work.

Barbara thought that it might make a nice set, so I found two more flower poems (I Hide Myself and With a Lily in Your Hand) and set them using small bits of material from Go, Lovely Rose. Soon after their publication I started receiving actual commissions for my music, and my life as a professional artist took off. I often think how lucky I was to have stumbled blindly to the place where David was teaching, and in retrospect I am struck speechless at the thought that our paths might not have crossed. Were it not for Maestro David Weiller I would have had a drastically different life, and it is to him, with infinite love and overwhelming gratitude, that I have dedicated these works.

I Hide Myself

I hide myself within my flower
that wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting wear me too
and angels know the rest.
I hide myself within my flower
that fading from your vase,
you, unsuspecting feel for me
almost a loneliness…

Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

With A Lily In Your Hand

With a lily in your hand
I leave you, o my night love!
Little widow of my single star
I find you.
Tamer of dark
butterflies!
I keep along my way.
After a thousand years are gone
you’ll see me,
o my night love!
By the blue footpath,
tamer of dark
stars,
I’ll make my way.
Until the universe
can fit inside
my heart.

Frederico Garcia Lorca, 1898-1936
(Translated by Jerome Rothenberg)

Go, Lovely Rose

Go, lovely rose
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.
Tell her that’s young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.
Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired;
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.
Then die! That she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share,
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!

Edmund Waller, 1606-1687

 

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