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Night Piece (SATB)
I originally wrote Night Piece as part of a cycle of ten art songs for solo voice that I adapted from my favorite poems by James Joyce. I later arranged three of those settings (Night Piece, Strings in the Earth and Air, and Bahnhofstrasse) for mixed chorus and piano for my dear friend Thomas Colohan, artistic director of the Washington Master Chorale. They made their premiere on October 27, 2019 at the Washington Master Chorale's 10th Anniversary Season opening concert in Washington, DC.
Replete with ecclesiastical imagery, my setting of Night Piece is a reverent, if not haunting portrait of “night’s sin-dark nave.” With its soaring melody, the music swells into a tender exultation of the night sky. Joyce’s characteristic neologisms abound. A “star-knell” tolls as “upsoaring” clouds surge “voidward,” high above the “adoring waste of souls.”
I composed two choral versions of Night Piece: SATB, unaccompanied, and SATB & Piano. Both versions are included in my choral suite, Three Choral Songs on James Joyce, and both are available separately.
Night Piece is also available in high voice (soprano or tenor) and medium voice (mezzo-soprano or baritone) versions and is part of my complete collection of art songs with texts by James Joyce: Ten Poems of James Joyce.
Gaunt in gloom
The pale stars their torches,
Ghost-fires from heaven's far verges faint illume—
Arches on soaring arches—
Night's sin-dark nave.
The lost hosts awaken
To service, till
In moonless gloom each lapses, muted, dim,
Raised when she has and shaken
And long and loud
To night's nave upsoaring,
A star-knell tolls—
As the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud,
Voidward from the adoring
Waste of souls.