Description: This work is a setting of two poems by E.E. Cummings for chamber orchestra and mezzo-soprano soloist. The approximate durations of the first and second movements are respectively seven and one half, and six minutes. The music was inspired by the poetry and attempts to highlight the cyclic syntax which hallmarks Cummings' style. The first poem ("pity this busy monster, manunkind,") presents a sarcastic analysis of the progress of society. The compositional techniques used in the first movement involve elements of ostinato and fragmented motivic development to punctuate the penetrating message of the poem. The second movement ("these children singing in stone a") offers a marked contrast in texture and is a peaceful resolution to the agitated frustration of the first poem. Chromaticism is an essential element in defining the melodic and harmonic style. The vocal writing is largely declamatory and presents the vocalist with challenges of tessitura, intervallic complexity and extended technique.
Date: August 1986
Creator: Webb, Lisa A. (Lisa Ann)