12 Songs for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, or Tenor and Piano

on Poems by Emily Dickinson

I’ve returned to one of my “core” poets, Emily Dickinson, to write a dozen new songs as a collection called Setting Sail. When I studied with Dominick Argento back in 1987 and 1988, he used to joke with me that I would one day set every single poem Emily wrote, so I am dedicating this collection to the loving memory of Dominick Argento with gratitude for his mentorship and, later, his friendship. I’ve also dedicated these songs to Maggie Finnegan, for her stellar artistry and her friendship. Here are the poems I’ve made songs out of, beautiful poems of real substance.

1 – Setting Sail
2 – A little madness in the Spring
3 – If I can stop one heart from breaking
4 – A Book
5 – Suspense
6 – I died for beauty
7 – Down Time’s quaint stream
8 – The blunder is to estimate
9 – Faith is a Fine Invention
10 – I reason, Earth is short
11 – Look back on time with kindly eyes
12 – Playmates

The wonderful soprano Maggie Finnegan traveled to northern Connecticut at the end of July 2022 to make a recording with me of these new songs at the Hartt School of Music recording studio. I cannot thank Maggie enough for sharing her huge and radiant talent with me to make these recordings a reality!

E. C. Schirmer will be publishing these songs in April 2023.

Maggie Finnegan, soprano
Juliana Hall, piano

Listen to the rest of Setting Sail here.

Setting for Tenor and Piano

of the Poem by Walt Whitman

I’m thrilled and honored to have had the opportunity to compose a work for the great American tenor, Anthony Dean Griffey, a very large (18 minute) single-movement setting of the Walt Whitman poem The Mystic Trumpeter.

In my more than 30 years of composing, I had never been drawn to Whitman as so many other composers have been, but I thought I would go through his poems just “one last time” in my search for the perfect text for Tony to sing. Lo and behold, the moment I laid eyes on The Mystic Trumpeter, electricity went down my back and I knew this was the text.

The Mystic Trumpeter will be premiered in the coming seasons, with the wonderful pianist Warren Jones performing on piano.

Walt Whitman Archive: The Kansas Magazine

Walt Whitman Archive: The Mystic Trumpeter, February 1872