The Gods of Winter

Version for baritone and chamber ensemble
  • Title The Gods of Winter
  • Year 2006
  • Instr fl/picc,cl,hn,2vln,vc,perc,pf,baritone solo
  • Duration 15 min
  • Categories Vocal, Chamber (8 or more)
  • Publisher ACA
  • Texts Dana Gioia
  • AlternatesThe Gods of Winter (orchestra)
    Version for baritone and orchestra

Commissioned by the Da Capo Chamber Players

“I was introduced to the vivid poetry of National Book Award-winning poet Dana Gioia through a mutual friend, composer Paul Salerni, and I also first met Dana through Paul. Dana’s poetry has become quite popular for composers to set, and as a former composer himself, and a former music critic no less, Dana has an innate understanding of the process of music creation. The poet also had a busy life as an administrator at one point, as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, under President George (H. W.) Bush. When Dana was unexpectedly sent to Egypt on short notice, he unfortunately had to miss the concert with the premiere of Gods of Winter and other settings of his poetry.

Stemming from personal tragedy and loss, the poems are somber and stark. The first song is introductory in nature. The second, preceded by a long, ruminative prologue is the more intense expression, with suggestions of tumultuous motion and restlessness. The mood finally disperses in favor of the music of the opening, but now the voice is added where there were only instruments previously. The ending seeks to fuse vocal and instrumental colors in a stately epilogue. The cycle last approximately 16 minutes.” LK

First performance:
Jan Opalach, baritone, Louis Karchin, conductor
the Da Capo Chamber Players
Zoellner Center for the Performing Arts, Bethlehem, PA, Feb. 9, 2008


The suspenseful "Veterans' Cemetery" had an underlying tone of reproach, and a hymn-like chorale haunted the title song. Even in its quietest moments the work had a bare-nerve intensity. Mr. Opalach provided a gripping account.

Steve Smith, New York Times (02/2008)