Song for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, or Tenor and Piano

on a poem by Carl Sandburg

E. C. Schirmer Music Company

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J. W. Pepper

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Written for Jun Mo Yang, a young tenor studying in the graduate Vocal Arts Program at the Bard Conservatory of Bard College. He and his fellow students were working on a special project studying contemporary composers whose work engages with climate change, environmentalism, and the natural environment. The students had been asked to read a chapter from David Haskell’s “Sounds Wild and Broken” and had further been given the following direction to guide them: “we are assigning each of you to a project in which you will seek out song repertoire from a living composer whose work responds to climate change or the natural environment, heightening our connection to and awareness of the natural world. This topic has arisen from a call to Bard faculty to “#MakeClimateAClass: Bard faculty are urged to use our collective power as educators to engage with the climate change crisis.” Jun wrote to me that he was drawn to my music and asked whether any of my songs might fit within this subject area. At the time I had plenty of songs that spoke of the natural world, but none I could categorize as specifically dealing with the class’ more narrow focus, so I offered to write this song on a poem by one of my favorite poets, Carl Sandburg, who even by the early twentieth century was noting the degradation of the natural environment and its impact on life of all kinds trying to adjust to changed circumstances brought on in one way or another by man. I quickly found the poem “Buffalo Dusk,” seeing how strongly it speaks of the extinction of species and the loss that represents. Jun and his teachers remarked what a “beautiful and sad poem” it was, so in short order I was pleased to present this song to Jun, who gave “Buffalo Dusk” its first performance in April of 2023 at the Bard Conservatory.

Buffalo Dusk

Vocal Range
E-flat 4  :  A-flat 5

4′ 00″

Vocal Tessitura
A-flat 4  :  E-flat 5

Year of Composition

First Performance
April 12, 2023
Bard Graduate Vocal Arts Program
Bard College Conservatory of Music
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

First Performers
Jun Mo Yang, tenor
Neilson Chen, piano

no recording is available at this time