A collective of choral composers and conductors who sing too? Right up my alley!
Notes on The Caged Skylark by Hayes Biggs
My setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s The Caged Skylark was begun in the spring of 2011 and completed in August of the same year. The piece is dedicated to Gregg Smith, in honor of his eightieth birthday and with deepest thanks for his unflagging commitment to and support of American composers over the past several decades.
Hopkins (1844-1889), besides being possessed of a vision that made much of twentieth-century English poetry possible, was a convert to Roman Catholicism and a Jesuit priest. The Caged Skylark begins darkly, its first two stanzas juxtaposing the image of the brave, “dare-gale” skylark chafing against the confines of his “dull cage,” with the workaday drudgery of humans, imprisoned in their own earthly bodies. My setting begins with a duet for the sopranos and altos that seems to suggest the aimlessness of the bird in his futile struggle against his incarceration, culminating in chordal “bursts of fear or rage” in the full choir, with the altos hanging on stubbornly after the other voices have abruptly been cut o
Hopkins changes the affect completely for the last two stanzas. The skylark, even when flying free and high, still needs a resting place, a “wild nest” to which he can rapidly descend at will from the heights. Likewise, humans freed—in Hopkins’s view—by the fact of Christ’s resurrection still require their own dwellings, but their bodies are now transformed into something much lighter, no more an encumbrance than would be a rainbow alighting upon a meadow. Musically, my interpretation of the oem takes on a decidedly more tonal cast, but it is a tonality hard won and not without ambivalence.
Please feel free to visit my web site: www.hayesbiggs.com
C4 Choral Ensemble
Featuring Ecstatic Meditations by Aaron Jay Kernis and The Hildegard Motets by Frank Ferko.
Also including the world premiere of The Caged Skylark by C4 composer Hayes Biggs and
works by Jonathan David, Michael Dellaira, John Harbison, Robin McClellan, and Tarik O’Regan.
Thursday, November 17th at 8:00PM
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
3 West 65th Street, NYC
(at Central Park West)
Saturday, November 19th at 8:00PM
Church of St. Luke in the Fields
487 Hudson Street, NYC
(just south of Christopher Street)
Admission $15, suggested
Visit our NEW AND IMPROVED web site at http://c4ensemble.org/