Sea Calm, Moonlight Night, Island

Sea Calm, Moonlight Night, Island

for Alto or Mezzo soprano

(1998) (c.3-4′)

I selected and grouped these poems together for a High School English class project. When the time came early in my undergraduate studies to set some texts for a song project, I was immediately reminded of these and how well they worked together as a single work. They collectively express a constant, sometimes-invisible struggle against forces that can seem irresistible, but can be fought through transgenerational resilience, much like water wearing down stone, and the unfathomable strength of the ocean often hidden by its deceptively smooth surface stretching out to the horizon.

The first song, Sea Calm, is as still as its name and text might imply. Long notes give way to smooth tonal shifts and short, clipped syllables when the text implies otherwise. Moonlight Night: Carmel immediately shifts to a steady, almost march-like cadence. Dissonant intervals cut through and eventually stall this forward momentum, beating it back to a familiar — but more halting — stillness again. Literal vocal waves glide to the open Island, which interrupts its almost oppressive melancholy with hints of optimism, before sinking to an essential and stoic stillness.

  1. Sea Calm: quarter = 70 – 1:00
  2. Moonlight Night: quarter = 80 – 1:00
  3. Island: quarter = 70 – 1:00

Currents In Time, Navona Records, July 8, 2022

Mezzo soprano – Alyson Cambridge