R e p e r t o i r e

Gena Branscombe

The Sun Dial (1913)

The Open Road

Love in a Life (1907)

“How do I love thee?”

Jean Ethridge

Child Face (1967)

Offering and Rebuff (1967)

 

Jean Coulthard

Les Chansons du Coeur (1979)

No. 1 J’ai Fermé mon Coeur

No. 2 Je Tisserais un Arc-en-ciel

No. 3 Voix d’Yeux

 

Carol Ann Weaver

Timbrel in her Hand (1988)              

Lyrically Beautiful Woman                        

Dancing I

Names Tangles Names

Mary Gardiner

Three love? songs (1995)

No. 1 Love is…

No. 2 The Kiss

No. 3 He loves me…He loves me not

Ana Sokolovic

Love Songs (2009)

Doves I (I love you in 40 languages)

She’s in the house

Jana Skarecky

Green and Gold (2001)

No. 1 Sisters

No. 2 Evening Dance of the Grey Flies

No. 3 Summer

 

Martha Hill Duncan

Singing in the Northland (2008)

Daisy Time

The Star

Lady Icicle

 

Carmen Braden

Winter Lullaby (2010)

 

Rebekah Cummings

The Way I Dream (2017, commissioned work)

I. Inside My Head                            

II. Different Annes

III. Dear Old World

IV. ~Interlude ~

V. Unfolding

VI. ~Interlude~

VII. Dear Friend

VIII. Dream With Me

Julia Solana Jacklein

Three Summer Songs (2018, commissioned work)

1. Sun, Waves and Stones

2. Flower on the Wind

3. Dreams Unfolding

A b o u t  T h e  M u s i c

Gena Branscombe (1881-1977)

The piece “How do I love thee?” from Love in a Life (1907) by Gena Branscombe is from a set of six songs with text by the English poet Elizabeth Barret Browning. All six texts are taken from Brownings collection of 44 poems called Sonnets from the Portuguese, which she wrote from 1845-46. “How do I love thee” is one of the most well known poems from the collection. Browning had written the poems about her relationship with her husband, Robert, and so in order to protect her privacy, she claimed that the poems were foreign sonnets that she had translated into English. The music Branscombe composed is an excellent refection of the intimate text with many tender moments of quiet and gentle, soulful melodies.

 

Gena Branscombe (1881-1977)

 “The Open Road,” is one of four pieces from Branscombe’s The Sun Dial: A Song Cycle of Love Songs of the Open Road (1913). The poetry, written by Kendall Banning, tells of a person’s journey of love throughout the day. The set is comprised of “The Morning Wind,” “Noon,” “In Arcady by Moonlight,” and “The Open Road.” Branscombe composed what sound like folk song melodies that portray the light heartedness of the poetry and captures the spirit of a person in love.

Jean Ethridge (1943-)

"Child Face" and "Offering and Rebuff" were written in the last year of Jean Ethridge’s Undergraduate in Composition at the University of British Columbia. Both pieces have poetry by the American poet Carl Sandburg from his collection of poems called Honey and Salt. “Child Face” is a heart wrenching account of the appearance of a deceased child like a shadow in the night. Both text and music raise the feelings of relief and comfort at seeing the face of a lost child after being apart for so long. “Offering and Rebuff” is split up into two sections. At first, there is an outpouring of love, but a moment later, the storyteller retracts all previous statements and condemns her/his lover and casts them away in anger.

Carol Ann Weaver (1948-)

Timbrel in Her Hand is a music drama created for soprano, reader/dancer, mandolin, and piano/synthesizer. It began from a poem on the lives of women presented in the Hebrew scriptures which appear as part of the King James version of the Bible. The subject of the work is the lives of a few of the Old Testament women. Somehow, through the years of reading and being educated, I have always been shown the Greek goddesses as perfect, cast-in-stone figures. The women of the Old Testament, on the other hand, have always appeared as more than a little wicked, or at least suspect, set against the order of the laws and the prophets. Not surprisingly, I began to feel that I wanted to see those women for myself, to reach behind the interpretations and judgements of them, behind all the commentaries on their actions. Their actions did not appear wrong to me. They struggled to have and to protect their children and themselves in a harsh world, to balance good and evil in their lives.” –Judith Miler

Jean Coulthard (1908-2000)

Les Chansons du Coeur (1979) was composed during the summer of 1979 for soprano Ginette Duplessis at her request using three texts by Québec poet Madeleine Guimont. As the title of the set suggests, the three poems give profound insight into love and the heart. “I closed my heart in order to never love you again,” is the first line of the poem “J’ai Fermé mon Coeur.” We hear someone who has reached her limit of loving and has decided the only way to survive is to put an end to that love. The second poem, “Je Tisserais un Arc-en-ciel,” is a profession and promise of love while the third and last poem of the set, “Voix d’Yeux,” is an intimate poem illustrating that the voice of love speaks through the eyes.

The work was premiered in March 1984 by Duplessis and pianist Elaine Keillor at a concert of contemporary music presented by Ottawa’s Espace Musique at the University of Ottawa’s Odeon Theatre.

 

Mary Gardiner (1932-2010)

Three love? songs (1995) is a set of charming songs describing some of the side effects of love.  The first in the set, ”Love is…” recounts the tremendous hold love can take over our beings, “The Kiss” is about the disappointment of a kiss not meeting our expectations of how it should feel, and “He loves me…He loves me not” describes the agony of love when it is unrequited, with a slight twist at the end!

 

The work is dedicated to Mary Gardiner’s friend, Eva Michalak, a singer whose encouragement inspired her to continue to write.

Jana Skarecky (1957-)

"Green and Gold is a cycle of three songs on texts by Canadian poet P. K. Page. It was commissioned by the Wider Boundaries of Daring Poetry Conference held in Windsor, Ontario in 2001, for a concert of music on texts by Canadian women poets. I was drawn to the images of nature in Summer, to the depth of sorrow and transcendence in Evening Dance of the Grey Flies, and the nuances of family dynamics in Sisters. The recurrent colour images in the poems gave the cycle its name. P.K. Page is also a painter, and it so happened that when I went to see an exhibition of her artwork right after the premiere concert, the very last image I saw there was her small, exquisite painting of stylized flowers which I had no idea existed, which was entitled Green and Gold." - Jana Skarecky 

 

Martha Hill Duncan (1955-)

Singing in the Northland Volumes I and II (2008) were first inspired in 1998 when a voice teacher of Martha’s daughter lamented the lack of expressive contemporary vocal music for young singers and presented her with the challenge of writing some. The work she composed concentrates on Canadian poetry by Majorie Pickthall, Beatrice Redpath, E. Pauline Johnson, Charles G.D. Roberts among more.

 

The song cycle is dedicated to her daughter, Claire, for her patience, humour, insights, and moreover, her beautiful and expressive voice.

 

Ana Sokolovic (1968-)

Love Songs (2009) is an intimate story of love in five “thematic” movements. The first movement, sung on this recital, is about pure love, and the following movements are about tender love, child’s love, mature love, and love for a person lost. The lyrics are sung in five languages: English, French, Serbian, Irish, and Latin with interludes between the movements with the phrase “I love you” spoken in 100 languages. While the movements are lyrical, the interludes are more rhythmical, inspired by the colours of a hundred languages, with the singer using various unconventional voice techniques.

 

Love Songs was commissioned by the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre with funding by the Québec Arts Council. The work is dedicated to Ana’s children, Eva and Gustave.

Carmen Braden (1985-)

This piece is a lullaby for the winter season. The singer is singing to a frozen lake, and makes promises about the spring break-up of ice.

 

Rebekah Cummings (1980-)

“When Clarisse decided on Lucy M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables as the primary text source for this piece, I was thrilled.  Anne has always been a kind of “kindred spirit” to me — I watched the CBC series dozens of times as a child, and even as an adult I’m still inspired by Anne’s constant sense of wonder and curiosity.  In this song set, I wanted to portray the essence of Anne’s journey from childhood into womanhood, while capturing the mystery, depth and wisdom of her character as a dreamer with childlike yet profound thoughts.  Starting out as an orphan girl whose only friends were fictional characters and her own reflection, Anne was often rejected and misunderstood for her unique personality.  Through being loved and learning to love at Green Gables, she blossomed into a woman with many meaningful relationships — able to share with and influence the world around her.  The Way I Dream tracks this maturing process from independent to relational and internal to external, beginning with the text, “if only you could dream the way I dream” and concluding with, “come dream with me” (these sentiments, and the text of the set as a whole, are directed primarily at the love of Anne’s life, Gilbert Blythe).  Lucy M. Montgomery seems to say, through Anne’s story, that of all the incredible wonders in this world, love — often unfolding rather quietly and unexpectedly — is the most thrilling adventure, the greatest dream, and the most awe-inspiring mystery of all.” –Rebekah Cummings

Julia Solana Jacklein (1983-)

"These three songs, set to original poems, depict a personal journey through summer in Canada. 

In 'Sun, Waves and Stones' I tried to bring to life something of the rugged central Ontario landscape: something of the hard, red granite cliffs, of the cold, clear water lapping against the shore, and of the loons calling through the silence. The central Ontario landscape may seem barren at times, and yet, if one takes time to know it, it unfolds a beauty all its own. It can feel empty, but the emptiness allows us to become aware of small things that we never knew were there. It allows us to become attuned to our own place in the great scheme of time, occasioning a kind of “joyful sadness.” Because I wanted to unite several different aspects of nature, and different emotions, in the music (ruggedness and beauty, joy and sadness), the piece is characterized by opposites: a confident momentum and exuberance on the one hand, and a sense of pulling back, of struggling and searching, on the other.  

 

When I wrote the poem 'Flowers on the Wind,' I was thinking of trips that I took to the ocean at various times. I remember the dazzling beauty of the waves, the blowing wind and sparking sunlight…  But I also recall the sense of emptiness that came from being surrounded by these wild elements, of being so small beside such a large body of water; and the realization that our human concerns are truly small when compared to this natural vastness. I tried to put something of the waves and sunlight into the music, and through the words of the poem, to acknowledge our human joys and fears and nature's strong presence.

 

With 'Dreams Unfolding,' I wanted to communicate a sense of being suspended between worlds. I wanted to bring to life the elusive and magical moment when summer quietly turns into fall. Both in the poem and in the music, I tried to create a sense of time slowing down: to hold a magnifying glass to a brief moment, in order to glance into the mystery of transformation. While writing the poem, I envisioned the golden atmosphere of one of those warm days in early September, when everything seems to be steeped in sunshine." - Julia Solana Jacklein                                                                                                                                              

© 2018 The Candian Women Composers Project

Artwork by Carole Spandau