for soprano and chamber ensemblesoprano, violin, viola, cello, harp, and 3 percussionists (1968)
|text (Eng) from "Finnegans Wake" by James Joyce
|Commissioned by the Marlboro Music Festival and Bethany Beardslee
|1968; Marlboro Music Festival, Marlboro, VT; Bethany Beardslee, soprano
In the summers of 1967 and 1968 I had the good fortune to be a resident composer at the Marlboro Music Festival under a grant from the Ford Foundation. The great soprano Bethany Beardslee asked me during the first summer to compose a vocal work for her. The result was Wake (1968), for soprano, string trio, harp, and percussion (three players). Bethany and a group of Marlboro performers premiered it at the 1968 festival under my direction. The work is in one movement about 16 minutes long.
The inspiration for Wake came from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. I arranged the text out of passages from Book I, chapter 8 of the novel, to create the symmetrical formal pattern of Introduction, Cycle I, Episode I, Cycle II, Episode II, Cycle III, and Coda. The main action of the piece resides in the cycles, which rise to parallel climaxes and which are meant to reflect the novel’s themes of recurrence and metamorphosis. The harp and percussion clothe the work in a lyrical atmosphere motivated by Joyce’s beautiful language.