Four Songs on Poems of Seamus Heaney

  • Title Four Songs on Poems of Seamus Heaney
  • Year 2013
  • Instr fl, cl, vn, vc, pf, perc, soprano solo
  • Duration 11 min
  • Categories Vocal, Chamber
  • Publisher ACA
  • Texts Seamus Heaney

Piano-Vocal score is available for rehearsal.

“Four Songs on Poems of Seamus Heaney was composed in 2012 for three ensembles: Ensemble Périphérie (in Iowa), Magnetic South (in Charleston, South Carolina), and Ensemble Mise-en (in New York). The four poems are taken from several collections of the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet, and although they are not ostensibly related to each other, in my mind, I constructed a scenario linking them. (Eventually, I filled out this scenario with instrumental movements, forming the seven-movement work, Ancient Scenes.) I related the various songs to the growth and development of an imagined ancient town by the sea. The first, simply entitled Lightenings iv, takes as its point of departure the roar of a crowd echoing through an ancient coliseum. The second, The Rain Stick, describes (in very accurate detail) a most intriguing percussion instrument, and is set to a dance that might have provided entertainment in an ancient forum. The third song (Lightenings i) reflects on the frailty of the human condition and the fleeting nature of life; the last (Settings xxiv) is a beautiful panorama of a still harbor shimmering in the light. The duration of the cycle is approximately 11 minutes.” LK

N. B. To view a performance of the songs on the Ancient Scenes video, please go to 10:47 (Songs 1 and 2) and 21.04 (songs 3 and 4).

First performance:
Ensemble Périphérie
Michelle Crouch, soprano, John Dangerfield, conductor
on tour at Northern Illinois University, March 6, 2013


After performance of Four Songs on Poems of Seamus Heaney at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. With Luke Dahn (left), director of Ensemble Peripherie, and Joseph Dangerfield (center), conductor of the ensemble.