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Three Songs on Poems by Jean Toomer

for soprano and chamber orchestra

Year:  2006   ·  Duration:  15m
Instrumentation:  111*1; 1000; perc.; soprano voice; strings | (Perc: floor tom, bass drum, susp. cymbal, tambourine, triangle, vibraphone)

Year:  2006
Duration:  15m
Instrumentation  111*1; 1000; perc.; soprano...

Composer:   Anthony Young

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: Pages 41-44, 60-63

See details ➔
Sample Score

Sample: first two pages of each movement

See details ➔


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The three poems by Jean Toomer were selected for their beauty of language, wide palette of colours and imagery, and strength of feeling. I stumbled upon them while browsing a website of American poets. I had not intended to set work by an author who was so politically motivated, but the instant reaction in my heart on reading them made these a must. I must confess to not understanding the poems completely, but that air of mystery appeals all the same. I've attempted to set the poems in an honest and respectful way, but I have had to rely on my own interpretation and instinct in doing so. This set of songs is a quest for, or dream of, beauty, and the difficulties one meets on the way. Emotional poles are used to structure the music and highlight my interpretation of the texts.

Contents note

  1. Storm Ending
  2. Evening Song
  3. her lips are copper wire

Text note

Poems by Jean Toomer

Performance history

16 Jul 2006: Performed by Claire Nash (soprano), Auckland Chamber Orchestra, conducted Peter Scholes; Town Hall, Auckland