Leaves from Diana's Tree

The journey of Leaves from Diana’s Tree from initial impulse to finished composition has been a very long one. I first became acquainted with the poetry of Alejandra Piznarik in the late 1990’s, and was immediately taken with the idea of setting her poetry to music. The power and strength of her voice was obvious, even in English translation. A new translation of Piznarik’s seminal work Diana’s Tree by Yvette Siegert came out in 2014. Shortly afterward, the possibility of a piece for soprano Shauna Fallihee and the Empyrean Ensemble presented itself. These combination of these two circumstances gave the final impetus for composing this piece.

Piznarik’s poems are often short. I have grouped two or more together in each of the four movements of this piece. This is based on my own way of reading the poems; I find that I rarely read one on its own, putting the book down between poems. Rather, I want to experience several different ones in close succession, reflecting on how they relate and echo each other. This inspires the musical atmosphere for the poems, sometimes sitting below the text, sometimes pushing the text, sometimes offering instrumental (and wordless vocal) commentary on the text, but always providing a flow of its own.