Original poetry by: Geoffrey Nutter
The Sparrows is a 14-minute song cycle for tenor voice and chamber orchestra (2[1+picc].1.2[2+bcl].1 - 188.8.131.52 - 2perc - hp - 184.108.40.206.1) featuring original texts by American poet Geoffrey Nutter. Named for the unassuming brown birds that stand for the ubiquity and beauty of love, Nutter’s The Sparrows is a series of six lyrical poems containing symbols drawn from nature, rituals, plainness, and mythology that explore various angles of love through everyday observances of the world around us. My setting of The Sparrows consists of two contrasting movements: Movement one, “A Song,” opens with heraldic flourishes illustrating the jubilance of new love demonstrated by the images of the sun and sky, birth, and earthiness from the text, further depicted musically by two interwoven textural palettes of bright brass with metal percussion and earthy strings. The second setting, “An Invitation,” opens with a delicate and meditative texture overlaid by playful song-like gestures in the orchestra that develop and react to the tenor soloist throughout the course of the piece. This song ends with a with a swift, cleansing surge of sound at the close of the song, leaving the soloist to speak its final line, “What will I turn into tomorrow?” While interpretations of Nutter’s texts vary from listener to listener, I base my own settings of these poems on personal reactions to the texts’ metaphors such as the sea and its waves, past and present, companionship, and commonplace birds to invoke themes of childhood, memory, nostalgia, and sexuality.