I Will Learn to Love a Person
version for soprano and piano(2013)
|Movements||I. That Night with the Green Sky|
II. Eleven page poem part III
III. I will learn to love a person and then I will teach you and then we will know
IV. When I leave this place
V. Are you ok?
|Commission||Commissioned by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund|
|Premiere||August 18, 2013; Constellation, Chicago, IL; The Color Field Ensemble|
In setting out to write my first large vocal piece since completing my opera Invisible Cities in 2011, I wanted to work with a different kind of text from Italo Calvino’s stylized, aphoristic prose. I hoped to find something more immediate that spoke directly to my life: that of an overeducated 29-year-old Millennial—having grown up suburban, overpraised, with the Internet a constant presence.
While those circumstances are at face value unremarkable, I felt that new classical music had not yet addressed the Millennial condition in a meaningful way. It seems at times that "contemporary music" is so intently backwards-looking that it misses what is truly contemporary.
Around this time I read a fantastic essay by the poet Jennifer Moore, “‘No discernible emotion and no discernible lack of emotion’: On Tao Lin”. She discusses Lin’s poetry and the “New Sincerity” movement of which he is considered part. New Sincerity poetry is—simply defined—autobiographical, direct, emotional, stripped down, and self-doubting.
What I discovered in Tao Lin’s poetry fit perfectly into my compositional style. The thematic links between the poems in his book Cognitive Behavioral Therapy allowed me to create a cycle of songs that are similarly connected. The simplicity of the texts also gave me the freedom to try many compositional strategies: sometimes supporting the subject matter with the music, at other times playing against them to highlight certain ambiguities.
In writing these pieces, my hope is to create a work that reflects the strange and beautiful experience of growing up at the turn of the century—and that will continue to have meaning after that moment passes.