Five Songs of Solomon

Five Songs of Solomon

Year: 2001

Heading: for soprano and piano

Movement Titles:
1. On My Bed
2. I Will Rise
3. The Watchmen Came
4. I Had Hardly Left Them
5. I Adjure You

First Performance:
18 February 2001
92nd Street Y, New York City
Margaret Lloyd, soprano, Michael Torke, piano

Instrumentation: soprano and piano

Duration: 14'

Libretto: Song of Songs 3:1-5

Program Note:
These songs were written for the soprano Margaret Lloyd, commissioned by the 92nd Street Y in New York City, and premiered there February 18, 2001. My desire was to find five verses from the Biblical Song of Songs, that told a small story, and devise each of the songs to have the same form, with only small harmonic and melodic changes expressing the moods of each verse. A young girl singing about searching for her lost love made me think the setting should be simple, and that the piano accompaniment not get in the way (as so often happens in contemporary song cycles). The individual songs cannot be performed alone; they make sense only as a large, structural chord progression from the first song to the last, and the listener best appreciates the wisdom of the final verse, "I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, do not stir up love before its own time", by understanding the consoling, alternating harmony in relation to the harmonic treatments that came in each of the four songs before.

1. On my Bed
On my bed at night I sought him
whom my heart loves-
I sought him but did not find him.

2. I Will Rise
I will rise then and go about the city;
in the streets and crossings I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but did not find him.

3. The Watchmen Came
The watchmen came upon me
as they made their rounds of the city:
Have you seen him whom my heart loves?

4. I Had Hardly Left Them
I had hardly left them
when I found him whom my heart loves.
I took hold of him and would not let him go
till I should bring him to the home of my mother,
to the room of my parent.

5. I Adjure You
I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and hinds of the field,
Do not arouse, do not stir up love
before its own time.