Amhráin as an Linn Dubh
Songs From the Black Pool

Score: PDF

Audio: (MIDI rehearsal demo)
1. To an Isle in the Water Mvt1
2. A Drinking Song Mvt2
3. The Heart of the Woman Mvt3
4. The Scholars Mvt4
5. Sixteen Dead Men Mvt5
6. These Are the Clouds Mvt6
7. Aedh Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven Mvt7

Instrumentation: soprano (or tenor), piano
Vocal Range: C4 - Bb5
Duration: ca. 14:30
Year of Completion: 2013
Program Notes

Ireland's history is rich and complex, filled with great cultural tradition amid nearly constant political and social strife. One of the nation's largest artistic contributions is literature in the English language, ranging from poetry and satire to novels and plays. Seven early poems of William Butler Yeats were chosen for this cycle that capture small essences of the history, tradition, and personality of the Irish. My honeymoon visit to Dublin, Limerick, and County Kerry with Julia also inspired this work. Each poem brings to mind a specific time or place on our trip, and I have attempted to capture a little bit of the magic that we found among the green hills and ocean views.

The cycle opens with an ode to Ireland herself, a lovely bit of nationalism from the oft-cynical Yeats. Piano textures represent different types of waves on the water with the soprano floating overhead. No trip to Dublin is complete without a visit to the Stag's Head pub for a pint, and A Drinking Song is a short, off-kilter ode to the juice of the barley. The Heart of the Woman is an elegy dedicated to a lost love in the bloody teens and twenties with the revolution and World War I, or perhaps the loss of Ireland herself. Amid all of the bleak themes and textures of his writing, Yeats does comment on society with a rare bit of humor as found in The Scholars. Stuffy academics are put on trial for their sins against students, proving that little has changed in the ivory tower over the past century! Sixteen Dead Men is one of several poems Yeats dedicated to the events of the 1916 Easter Rising, here specifically the public execution of Irish Republican leaders Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and their subordinates. The piano tolls harsh, bell-like figures while the singer's declamation alternates between sadness, disbelief, and rage at the events that transpired during that tragic week. Ireland's weather shifts between partly and mostly cloudy - thankfully it only rained on our first and last days in Dublin - and These Are the Clouds serves as my impression of the hazy landscape looking to the ocean at the Cliffs of Moher. The final movement is told from the viewpoint of Aedh, the god of the underworld in Irish mythology. He represents the lovelorn in Yeats's literary mythos and the offering of humble gifts to his love is mirrored in my own composing of this cycle for Ireland. The vocal melody is largely a variation on the traditional Irish tune "Molly Malone" as a final remembrance of friends and family we have loved and lost.