Moments of change
Duration (in minutes): 16'39;22'34;
Difficulty: High (professional)
Category: solo voice(s) with piano
Publisher: Hidden Oaks Music Co.
Text PDF: moments_of_change_text_by_atwood-5.pdf
Description: Moments of change (2004) is based on five poems by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood: "The moment" from Morning in the Burned House; "Habitation, More and more, It is dangerous to read newspapers, and Late night" from Selected Poems 1965-1975. It was written for soprano Eileen Strempel and pianist Sylvie Beaudette. Partial support for this commission was provided by the Hanson Institute for American Music of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.
I. The moment illustrates the false notion that makes us believe that we own land and other property in this world. Only to realize this is false when we die - we own them only temporarily. The music underscores the dramatic moments of the poem and the futile pursue of ownership: we work all our lives trying to acquire more property until we stop breathing and realize we were visitors in this world and we own nothing!
II. Habitation focuses on the moment when two people after many years of being married ask themselves what is marriage: “it is not a house, or even a tent, it is before that and colder”. The music is reflective, sparse and austere and it ends without an answer, the same way it started, just like the poem.
III. More and more is a very passionate poem about desire and its search to satisfy it not knowing why and not being able to stop it (“a starved dog’s logic about bones”). The music emphasizes intense and loaded words such as “burning”, “hunger”, “starved”, “consume, with dramatic shifts of mood and tempo.
IV. It is dangerous to read newspapers is the moment when we read a newspaper and realized the contrast between our safe daily lives in the cities and the violent acts of war being committed in other parts of the world. The music reflects these simultaneous realities, the safety of our daily lives and the horrors that take place in other places of the world.
V. Late night takes place on a night when a storm is attacking us like a “giant dog or wild boar with huge ears”, and when the powerful effect of the thunder on our windows and roof is terrifying… a moment later our thoughts anticipate the serene sky after the storm…then we realize that all that we want is our loved one (“screw poetry, it’s you that I want)”. The music reflects these extreme states of mind.