Opus 805

Songs from the City of Light (2009)

for Voice and Piano

Text by Richard Leach

  • Wake Up
  • Make It Easy
  • Crayons (Stay Inside the Lines)
  • Summer in the City
  • Dancers
  • Second Act of Day
  • City of Light

Duration: 19 min.

Dedication: for Harry Lyn Huff

Contact the composer regarding perusal or performance materials.

Notes from the poet: There are four love songs in this seven panel aural painting. After the breezy invitation, “Make It Easy,” are songs of new love, secure love and cherished love: “Summer in the City,” “Second Act of Day” and “City of Light.” These four make a kind of narrative arc, and the other three songs can be heard as part of it, though they are not bound to it. “Crayons (Stay Inside the Lines)” in particular could belong to quite a different story. “Dancers” is based on a statement by dancer Omar Carrum, in the New York Times of November 7, 2004. Speaking of catching a female dancer who has made a very high leap toward his arms, he said, “Have I ever dropped her? No, I will never drop a dancer. I will fall and hurt myself before letting a woman in the air drop.” I hear these as city songs, and that is spelled out in the lyrics several times. The city of light of the suite’s title is a city at night in the winter, brightened by new-fallen snow for a couple making their way home after a Valentine’s Day dinner. The city of light is also a lover’s memory, in which that scene and many more are bright. (Richard Leach)

Notes from the composer: Songs from the City of Light (2009) is a cycle for voice and piano. The songs were written in close collaboration with poet Richard Leach, whose lyrics provided the focusing themes of the entire set. Unlike my other song cycles, these songs draw heavily on popular music, folk music, and musical theater idioms. As such, they may be sung by singers whose voices are trained in either the classical or musical theater tradition. Though designed to be performed as an cycle, the songs may be performed separately or in smaller groupings, if necessary. A minimum of dynamic and expression marks appear in the score. This is not meant to imply a monochromatic or inexpressive performance—rather, the intention is that most interpretative and dramatic decisions are left to the performers. The accompaniments, particularly for verse and chorus repetitions in strophic songs, are provided as a baseline. Though they may certainly be played effectively exactly as written, the skilled theater pianist is welcome to embellish and amplify throughout as desired, as long as care is taken not to distort the harmonies. (Carson Cooman)