EXHILARATION - Emily Dickinson songs

Instrumentation: voice and piano

Poems by: Emily Dickinson

Duration: 20 minutes

Composed: 2006

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

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."

Emily Dickinson once asked, “Do I paint it natural?” I have tried to preserve, as much as possible, the unique voice of this extraordinary poet. I hope these songs paint it natural.

* from Richard Sewall’s excellent biography, “The Life of Emily Dickinson” (Harvard University Press, 2003)

Exhilaration - Emily Dickinson songs:

  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 -

Recordings of Exhilaration: