Four poems sharing a common motif of 'Night' provide the texts for my choral cycle Nocturnes, the American Choral Directors Association's commissioned work for its 2005 national convention. For Rilke's atmospheric Sa nuit d'ete, several melodic themes are supported by dense, colorful harmonies in both the choral and piano parts, leading to a climactic section where all are combined and stated simultaneously. Neruda's Soneto de la Noche, from his Cien Sonetos de Amor, speaks of an eternal love that transcends death while reaffirming life. My a cappella setting of this gorgeous poem is predominantly quiet, serene and folk-like, utilizing direct harmonies accompanying long, lyrical vocal lines. Agee's wondrous Sure on this Shining Night is set much like a song from the American musical theater, a genre for which I have held a life-long esteem. Rilke's poignant Voici le soir recalls the opening bell sounds and jazz-tinged chords of the first movement and serves as an epilogue, quietly concluding this cycle of night songs as darkness descends.
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