Wishes Night

Wishes Night (1999) has a route is defined by more by the text and less by formal ideas and structure. The sound of poet Denise Newman's words, their collision and collusion as they unfold, and the way the individual sounds and images group themselves into larger units – these text elements drew my music along and provided a structure for the piece. To be sure, there are some purely musical ideas, in particular the held notes in two voice parts while another part sings text in a faster rhythm. But this and other musical ideas are subordinate to the flow of the text.

For me, the key to the text lies in the last stanza:
   The gurgle and gaggle and purl of the river
   softly flowing by open palms
   the song that sings one sings on

In this work, I have made this text serve as a starting point as well as a goal. The piece begins with an introduction made up of fragments from these lines, which gradually move toward the “real” beginning (The lumps and chunks . . . ). There are hints of these lines throughout the piece, as asides to the main flow of the text. Finally, at the end, the lines are clearly presented in their entirety.

The text was newly written specifically for this piece. That aspect of writing Wishes Night has been very exciting for me. Collaborations are often stimulating. This one has been a joy and a pleasure as well. For that, I must express my profound thanks to Denise.