Vocal Music

Voice and Piano

Begin (for soprano or mezzo-soprano and piano)

Text by Neil Aitken, used with permission

(Duration – 7:15 minutes)

Begin is the first poem from a set called Babbage’s Dream, about the first man to conceptualize the idea of a programmable computer in the 1820s. Poet Neil Aitken charts the course of Charles Babbage’s life, from his initial envisioning of an analytical machine, through his death with the machine only partially built.
It’s a story that might have been technical and academic, and yet, what caught my eye was the poet’s knack for taking complex concepts and pulling a story from them which is classical, beautiful, and universal. To me, the text of Begin is applicable to the beginning of any endeavor: The words feel like a personal reflection from someone enraptured with a vision which no one around them can see, understand, or imagine as yet.

Enchantress of Numbers (aria for soprano with piano)

(duration – 6 mins)

An aria for soprano from my Ada Lovelace opera, libretto by Neil Aitken. After the birth of her third child, Ada is excited to return to her work in mathematics with Charles Babbage as they attempt to build the first computing machine. But she quickly realizes that her husband expects something different – in his mind, this is the turning point at which she will settle down to become a more traditional society wife, putting her focus entirely on family and away from her passion for scientific work. Ada sings about this conflict, about being torn between what she loves and that which society and her husband imagine for her.


Unaccompanied voice

Credo (for unaccompanied soprano)

(duration 2 – 3 mins [depending on improvisatory elements])

A secular prayer in time of loss and grief, Credo sets a text by poet Neil Aitken about finding belief in something greater. Semi-improvisatory, ornamented, drawing on the style of arabic church singing and religious recitations, the song conjures an atmosphere of faith and spirituality. 


Vocal trio (SSA or two sopranos and mezzo-soprano)

Night Wears Black

(duration – 4:30 mins)

Night wears black to mourn the dead stars. (adapted from Rumi)
A meditation to the loss and to the night, this piece should sound ritualistic and prayer-like. Although the vocal style is influenced by Indian folk music, the atmosphere should be more reminiscent of traditional Buddhist chanting, voices and bells together evoking an atmosphere of stillness and sanctity.


Soprano and Chamber Ensemble

The Lost Country of Sight (for soprano, cello, piano, and percussion)

Text by Neil Aitken, used with permission

(In four movements, duration 13 mins.)

Poems in tribute to a lost loved one, portraying the cyclical nature of life and relationships. The songs serve as something of a farewell, an exile of body to earth and of spirit to cosmos

Night Wears Black (version for soprano with cello and pitched bells)

(duration – 4:30 mins)

Night wears black to mourn the dead stars. (adapted from Rumi) A meditation to the loss and to the night, this piece should sound ritualistic and prayer-like. Although the vocal style is influenced by Indian folk music, the atmosphere should be more reminiscent of traditional Buddhist chanting, voices, bells and cello evoking an atmosphere of stillness and sanctity.


 

Voice and electronics

Sirens (for two sopranos, mezzo-soprano and pre-recorded track)

(Duration – 32 minutes)

Text adapted from James Russell Lowell (from the public domain)

Sirens  was written for an unusual project – a multi-disciplinary collaboration between Heidi Duckler Dance theatre, LA Opera, the Los Angeles Marine Institute and AltaSea. Written for a site-specific performance on tall ships in San Pedro harbor, the cycle features singers over an electronic track incorporating samples of birds and whales to evoke a haunting marine soundscape.