awaiting publication by Gonzaga
A setting of words taken from Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville. Commissioned jointly by University of Wisconsin, Whitewater and Temple University, Philadelphia. Premiere in Philadelphia November 2014; in Wisconsin performances on April 18th and 19th 2015, conducted by Bob Gehrenbeck (details to follow)
Our orphan souls
CHOIR: It was a clear, steel-blue day.
The firmaments of air and sea
Were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure;
The pensive air was pure and soft,
And the sea heaved with strong, lingering swells.
AHAB: Would to God these blessed calms would last!
But the mingled, mingling threads of life
Are woven by warp and woof:
Calms crossed by storms; a storm for every calm.
CHOIR: Hither and thither, on high,
Glided the snow-white wings of birds.
But to and fro in the deeps,
Far down in the bottomless blue,
Rushed mighty leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks –
The murderous thinkings of the sea.
AHAB: In what rapt ether sails the world,
Of which the weariest will never weary?
Where lies the final harbour,
Whence we unmoor no more?
CHOIR: Over these sea-pastures the waves rise and fall,
And ebb and flow unceasingly.
AHAB: Where is the foundling’s father hidden?
CHOIR: Millions of shades and shadows lie dreaming,
Tossing like slumberers in their beds.
AHAB: Our souls are like those orphans
Whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them.
CHOIR: Drowned dreams,
Lives and souls . . .
AHAB: The secret of our paternity lies in their grave,
And we must there to learn it.
CHOIR: Our orphan souls . . .
Herman Melville (Moby-Dick, chapters 111, 114, 132)