To Take You There (2021)

For soprano, cello, and dancer
Duration: 15 minutes
Commissioned by the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation

World premiere: June 27, 2021
Dixon Place, NYC, with Periapsis Music and Dance
Erin Dillon, dancer
Sharon Harms, soprano
Issei Herr, cello

This is the eleventh poem by Andrea Cohen that I’ve set to music. Unlike the others, which were much shorter and grouped into song cycles, I envisioned this setting as a standalone scene with dance. Most of my dance works have been written specifically for a single choreographer’s vision, but in this case I imagined creating a score with some general theatrical instructions that could then be adapted by various choreographers, with the possibility of performances being initiated by a dancer or choreographer, a soprano, or even a cellist. For the premiere, however, I approached Alia Kache to be the first to realize the work visually, commissioning her through Periapsis Music and Dance.

I’m struck by the poem’s scope and range. The characters are vivid and extreme, and the scene largely comic. But a vignette, towards the end, of a childhood memory reveals a tender emotional core, and the poem softens into something more human and vulnerable.