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Songs of Immortality

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  • SATB, Harp, Celesta & String Orchestra

SATB, Harp, Celesta & String Orchestra

Duration

16 minutes

Year of Composition

2010

Licensing

Boosey & Hawkes

Note from Composer

The movements, “Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed” and “After Great Pain”, were commissioned by The American Friends of The London Symphony Chorus and first performed on 24 October 2010 at the Barbican Hall, London, by the London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by myself.

The second movement, “Do not go gentle into that good night” was commissioned by the Rundfunkchor Berlin and its chief conductor, Simon Halsey.

The world premiere of the complete work took place on 15 April 2012 at Berliner Philharmonie, Germany with the Rundfunkchor Berlin and Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, once again conducted I was honored to conduct.

The Text

Lie still, sleep becalmed

Lie still, sleep becalmed, sufferer with the wound
In the throat, burning and turning. All night afloat
On the silent sea we have heard the sound
That came from the wound wrapped in the salt sheet.

Under the mile off moon we trembled listening
To the sea sound flowing like blood from the loud wound
And when the salt sheet broke in a storm of singing
The voices of all the drowned swam on the wind.

Open a pathway through the slow sad sail,
Throw wide to the wind the gates of the wandering boat
For my voyage to begin to the end of my wound,
We heard the sea sound sing, we saw the salt sheet tell.
Lie still, sleep becalmed, hide the mouth in the throat,
Or we shall obey, and ride with you through the drowned.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

After great pain

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

Emily Dickinson

Instrumentation

Chorus (SATB)
Harp
Celesta (doubling Piano)
14 x Violin I
12 x Violin II
10 x Viola
8 x Violincello
6 x Contrabass