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EXHILARATION - Emily Dickinson songs (2006) 
nine songs for voice and piano
poems by Emily Dickinson
20 minutes

premiere: March 20th, 2007 at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City by
Adriana Zabala (mezzo-soprano) and Gregg Kallor

  1. Exhilaration is the Breeze
  2. It bloomed and dropt, a Single Noon -
  3. Bee! I'm expecting you!
  4. We Cover Thee - Sweet Face -
  5. Wild Nights - Wild Nights!
  6. What Inn is this
  7. I should not dare to leave my friend
  8. Still own thee - still thou art -
  9. Exhilaration - is within -

MY BUSINESS IS TO SING! Emily Dickinson once wrote; what she sings of is the exhilaration of being alive.

In It bloomed and dropt, Dickinson mourns the loss of a single "noon," a metaphor for "the instantaneous, arrested present... when all accident, or 'grossness,' is discarded and there is nothing but essence." It isn't the passage of time that she regrets, but the lost opportunity to inhale more deeply the intoxicating ether of experience. For the poet who "would eat evanescence slowly," the moment is everything.

And it is the moment to which she so compellingly calls our attention - the rapture of those first precious moments of spring, the frenzied urge of sexual yearning, the anguish of watching a beloved die. She illuminates these fleeting sensations with exquisite nuance, urging us to savor them before they vanish forever.

"Let Emily sing for you because she cannot pray," she wrote to her grieving cousins after their father died. A poem, for her, was no mere abstraction, but a vital force - a prayer, a comfort, an inspiration. She felt impelled to let others hear the "noiseless noise in the Orchard" and her poems incite us to seek that noise - that essence - ourselves. "Exhilaration," she tells us, "is within."