Mythweaver : for soprano and piano
by Kevin March (2010)
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The poetry of Sappho has come to us, down through the centuries, primarily through three means: 1) one complete poem, 2) fragments surviving on papyrus, and 3) citation by other authors in instances where the original has been otherwise lost. We know also of a few other lost works which were mentioned by other writers but not quoted, leaving us with the knowledge of their existence but nothing of their content.
In the case of the poetic fragments, some poems, such as The Moon has Set, are nearly complete, missing only a few lines, while others are so fragmented as to contain only a few lines, a few words, or in some cases only a single word.
The poetry in this cycle is drawn from citations (Stars Around the Full Moon and Lady Dawn) and fragments (Beautiful Things). Two of the texts (The Moon Has Set, and Sweet Oil) are the result of combining citations with fragmentary texts of similar theme and tone. The brackets indicate places where the text has been lost.
In composing Mythweaver, I wanted to find a way of depicting these lost words, or to put it another way, this voice whose words have been lost. Wanting neither to simply ignore the gaps in the text nor to force upon the singer and listener text that wasn't Sappho's, I sought a third option. In several places I wrote new text to replace the lost text and set this text to music along with the rest of the poem. Once finished, I removed the text from the music, leaving the singer to wordlessly voice the sentiment of the poem. Though unsung, the added text appears in italics as a reference to assist the singer in conveying the overall tone of the poem. The singer has the option of performing the non-word syllables in the score as they are written or they may choose to use other appropriate syllables.
Instrumentation: Soprano, piano.
Duration: 12 min.
Contents note: I. Stars around the full moon -- II. The moon has set -- III. Sweet oil -- IV. Beautiful things -- V. Lady dawn -- VI. Yes! Radiant lyre!
- In the form/style of: Song Cycles
Performances of this work
22 Aug 2013: at Synaesthesia Triple Bill at Mudfest 2013 (Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne).
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