Remembering the Clouds
Instrumentation: soprano, flute, and piano
Duration: 13 minutes
Commissioned by: Brendan Ryan
Recorded by: Mysti Byrnes, Merryl Monard, and Annie Jeng
In August 2014, I relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan to begin my doctoral degree in composition and, having spent much of my life in large southern-US cities, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of winter here in the Midwest. Each day for four long winter months, I observed the ducks, geese, and mighty swans in amazement as they grew accustomed to their icy home on the Huron River right outside my studio window. Remembering the Clouds is inspired by these rituals—mine and theirs.
In my music I frequently draw upon themes of nature as a means toward a richer understanding of ones’ life, and while composing this cycle, my poetry search took me right back to this familiar place of exploration. The commissioners of this work, Brendan Ryan and Kate Fruchterman initially specified that they were inspired by the poetry of W. B. Yeats, so I used his work as a point of departure to explore texts of living writers of Yeats’ native country, Ireland. There, I discovered Dream by Leanne O'Sullivan and The Nowhere Birds by Caitríona O'Reilly. Each of these works draw upon mythology, storytelling, and nature to describe time—either a singular suspended moment as in Dream, or a succession of explored viewpoints as in The Nowhere Birds. The final text, The Presider, is a new poem by a much admired favorite writer of mine, Geoffrey Nutter, who provided the title poem in my previous cycle, In the Primal Garden.