Instrumentation: treble choir (SSA)
Year of Completion: 2011
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) gained a reputation in the latter part of the twentieth century as one of America's greatest poets, although her work was originally thought to be flawed and unfit for publication by her peers and family. Her poetry is full of vivid - and often morbid - images of life, nature, time, and death. These images are enhanced through her reclusive nature and the ability to observe the world from her small room above the family home in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The music is arranged in three movements that portray a single day in the life of our reclusive author. Upon waking, she sees a sunrise and observes children at play until they are ushered indoors by a schoolmaster. Movement two finds her reminiscing about a lost love; the chantlike music is arranged around a central pitch that frequently returns to represent this love. The work ends with a tumultuous sea shanty about a boat adrift - perhaps our author - who feels lost in a stormy sea of emotions. Rather than give in to grief she resolves to end the day in an exultant, triumphal fashion.