L A U R A
“...brought a flexible voice, crystalline diction, and warm presence..."
The New York Times
Twenty songs for soprano and piano
curated by Laura Strickling
Including works by: John Arrigo-Nelson, Paul Ayres, Clint Borzoni, Mark Buller, Martin Bussey, Emerson Eads, Evan Fein, Daniel Felsenfeld, Jodi Goble, Juliana Hall, Gordon Kerry, Joshua Lindsay, Cecilia Livingston, Ray Lustig, Carrie Magin, James Matheson, James Primosch, Behzad Ranjbaran, William Toutant, and Theodore Wiprud.
A R T I S T S - I N - R E S I D E N C E:
Music-Making at Home in the Midst of Global Quarantine
A Note from Bob Attiyeh at Yarlung Artists:
Music encompasses everything from tragedy to transcendence, sometimes within the same body of work - as we find in Gilda Lyons’s song cycle Songs of Lament and Praise. One might ask why so many of the narratives in classic operas are sad (ie. most of the people we love in the story are dead at the end, like we find in Shakespeare's tragedies). The answer may be that catharsis and transcendence and zest for life can come from grappling with enormous loss. Only after allowing ourselves to take that journey of sorrow can we emerge into light.
Laura Strickling's offering for our The Absolute Sound/Yarlung Records music videos made at home series responds to this dichotomy. Laura and family live on the island of St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. You may remember from prior Yarlung posts that Laura and family made it out of St. Thomas after hurricane Irma - safely to Puerto Rico, from which they barely escaped before hurricane Maria several days later. Paradise is experienced differently amidst storms. And during this current pandemic crisis, the entire world is together in the tempest. Laura and family are back in residence at home in St. Thomas, this time with her parents as well, in their small apartment. The weather is beautiful, as you can see in this video, and much comfort can be gleaned from nature.
Laura texted me these thoughts: "I was in New York as the veil of coronavirus descended upon the city, rehearsing for an opera production that was canceled just as all live musical performances were canceled for the foreseeable future. I fled homeward twelve hours later and began to wait and to mourn with the rest of the world. Walks on the beach have been a great solace. When everything seems uncertain, I’ve always turned to art song - words of importance, illuminated when paired with music. Pianist Joy Schreier and I have been friends and musical collaborators for 11 years. Even though she’s in the Washington, DC area and I’m on a Caribbean island, simple modern technology allows us to continue to dream, scheme, and make music together at a distance. Gilda Lyons’ Songs of Lament and Praise, particularly Deirdre’s Lament, seems a fitting partner in my grief at this time. We don’t yet know the end to this story - but, an eternal optimist, I hold hope that eventually I’ll be able to dwell on Lyons’ songs of Praise as well. There is great comfort to be found in the text, melody, and stillness of An Even-Song."
”An Even-Song” is the fifth and last song in Lyons’ cycle. The text is attributed to St. Patrick, 12th century (in translation from the Irish by Kuno Meyer, adapted by the composer)
May Thy holy angels,
O great King of mysteries,
Guard our sleep, our rest, our shining bed.
Let them reveal true visions to us.
May no demons, no ill, no terrifying dreams disturb us.
May our watch be holy, our work, our task,
Our sleep, our rest without let, without break.
"Dierdre's Lament" is the second of five songs in Gilda's cycle set to Irish texts from the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. This text is translated by Kuno Meyer from an anonymous 12th century source, adapted by the composer.
O man that diggest the tomb,
And that puttest my darling from me,
Make not the grave too narrow -
I shall be soon beside my noble one.
My time should not be long.