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Five Songs for voice and piano is an arrangement of Five Songs for voice and cello, composed in July 2000 for the Ruth Dallas 80th birthday celebration at the first Otago Festival of the Arts, held in Dunedin in October that same year. Five Songs are a setting of five selected poems from poet Ruth Dallas’ 1966 collection Day Book: Poems of a Year.
Stylistically, these songs are extremely simple, relying on modal melodies and open harmonies, mirroring the directness of the poet’s language. The poems speak of the natural environment of the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island and I was likewise inspired by the beauty of the region when setting them to music.
The performers in the premiere in 2000 were mezzo-soprano Ana Good, who was accompanied by members of the Panache Ensemble. Five Songs received a further performance in the 31st Asian Composers’ League Festival in Singapore in September 2013. This arrangement for voice and piano was made for my sister Jillian Carey and Chalium Poppy, who gave the first performance in Mount Maunganui in October 2016.
Five Songs is dedicated to my father Henry, like the poet, a native of New Zealand’s far south.
- The Sea
- The Pool
- Rainy Sunday
- In Day Becalmed