The Water Around Our Lives (2020)

For tenor voice and piano
(Upcoming version for baritone and piano)
Texts by Ben Purkert
Duration: 8.5 minutes
Commissioned by Lisa Carlson and Deborah and Charles Adelman

Written for Nils Neubert, tenor

World premiere TBD, but some songs previewed on YouTube and social media.

Program note: I started planning this work early in 2020 with tenor Nils Neubert as part of a larger return to the art song genre, and the composition process ended up taking place during the first weeks of the COVID lockdown. During my initial exploration I was introduced to the poetry of Ben Purkert by a mutual friend, and I quickly realized that his work could be a rewarding challenge to engage with as a composer.

It’s difficult to say to what extent the greater circumstances affected this work, but Ben’s poems have an evasiveness to them, a tendency to slip, mid-thought, from one image to the next, the new one evoking vastly different emotions, sensations, and perspectives before the last one is even fully realized. So the uncertainty we all felt during this time may have drawn me to eventually choose these particular poems, or affected how I set them.