Performance: SUNY-New Paltz College-Community Chorale directed by Edward Lundergan; Gary Palmieri, piano
Notes: Creatures is a set of three pieces for concert choir and piano. The common denominator is the fact that they are based on poems about living creatures.
"To See a Fox" is a setting of a poem of the same name by Richard Parisio, a naturalist and writer living in New Paltz, New York, from his book, The Owl Invites Your Silence. The musical setting reflects the wonder and surprise of the poet, unexpectedly encountering a fix while driving on a dark road.
"Book Lice" depicts a conversation between a loving pair of -- book lice. These are tiny insects which are commonly found in old books - they feed upon the paste used in binding. The poem of the same name is found in California poet Paul Fleishman's book Joyful Noise - Poems for Two Voices, writtten to be read by two people at once. My setting is bouncy and humorous, as I protray the devoted, but very different, couple.
"Honeybee" is a setting of Roger Roloff's poem To an Old, Dear Friend, from his book Natural Gifts. Roger, who wanders the hills and forests of New Paltz, New York, portrays his deep respect for the diligence and importance of this now endangered friend of mankind; my sertting is an attempt to reflect this respect.
I tunneled like a miner through the night
immured in steel, along a road whose curves
unspooled before me, darker for my light.
My way was fixed ahead except for swerves
when a pale form caught my headlights' glare,
a fox, whose silence spoke to all my nerves.
His leaping forth electrified the air -
a meteor in quickening grace.
Foxes are common - but to see one, there!
I saw him turn, I saw his pointed face
pose questions to the trembling dark
he might have asked for all his furtive race
until he leapt and vanished like a spark
and left a throbbing stillness in his place.
Oh honeybee, the first I've seen
this sudden spring now barely green:
drink deep from nectar's uncapped wells;
spread dust of life among fresh smells
crisscrossing wakened woods and fields;
claim virgin blooms young April yields.
Show once again the sacred art
you, and your busy kin made part
forever of the world I know
which soon with green will overflow.
Remind me that I stand on Earth
and not above it, for man's worth
requires full lives of countless flowers
you're born to breed with swift, sure powers.
Teach me anew, if I forget
at times this dear, longstanding debt,
how much it means not to be free,
but useful as the honeybee.