Songs of Distance and Light

  • Title Songs of Distance and Light
  • Year 1988
  • Instr fl/picc, ob, bcl, perc, pf, vln, vla, vc, soprano solo
  • Duration 19 min
  • Categories Vocal, Chamber (8 or more)
  • Publisher CF Peters
  • Texts Elizabeth Bishop and Jennifer Rose

First performance:
Earplay, Stephanie Friedman, soprano, Jonathan Khuner, conductor
First Unitarian Church of San Francisco, March 6, 1989


“One of the signal new music events of this admittedly young year….Over a 17-minute span, the Eastman-trained composer avoids most of the pitfalls of contemporary writing for the voice, as he envelops his setting of three poems within a chamber orchestra fabric of coruscating beauty. One feels his instinctive and profound reaction to Bishop´s imagery and rhythms….In Songs of Distance and Light, the musical line really does swell and flow and halt in deference to Bishop´s extraordinary poems. The exotic orchestration has that same canny voluptuousness of sound you will find in Ravel works for similar forces, yet the metallic urgency of the opening pages bespeaks a modern sensibility. Heroic struggle, acceptance of loss and refuge in memory seem the successive moods of the singer in the three poems.”

Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Examiner (03/1989)