for mezzo or soprano or SSA & piano (1981)
& for clarinet quartet (2016)
Arsis Press, (soprano & choral versions) 7 minutes
Composer Facsimile Edition for clarinet quartet version
Navona CD, Capstone Records & iTunes
rag, blues, boogie
"hugely funny, elegant" (The Post-Standard, Ithaca)
serious the musical styles of ragtime, blues and boogie but makes
humorous some of women's age-old traumas."
"The hit of the American selections was Vercoe's Irreveries
from Sappho." (Washington Post)
& fun" (William Bolcom)
(Read review 1) (Read review 2)
The titles of the three songs are: Andromeda Rag, Older Woman
Blues, and Boogie for Leda.
wickedly satiric and full of musical jokes and parodies on the subject of jealousy, ageism, and gossip. The composer comments: "Although Sappho's poetry is over 2500 years old, the deft translations by Mary Barnard seem remarkably up-to-date. Sappho's wit calls for whatever musical sleight of hand a composer might muster: thus the use of popular idioms and hidden tunes ('Turkey in the Straw,' 'Auld Lang Syne'), as well as the more respectable tricks of the trade such as counterpoint and recitative. Sappho's three women have clearly distinctive voices, but all three bespeak a fierce pride."
This piece has been widely performed by
a variety of soloists and choral groups including the New York
Virtuoso Singers and the Thamyris
Contemporary Ensemble at venues including the Corcoran Art Gallery,
Harvard University, Abraham Goodman House, the Cleveland Art Museum,
the National Gallery of Art, the University of Iowa, a NATS Regional
Convention, Mills College, Mt. Holyoke College, the Cité International
in Paris, and King's College in London. The songs are published by
Arsis Pess and recorded on Capstone and Navona CDs by mezzo Sharon
Mabry & pianist
Rosemary Platt. In 2016 the piece was performed in Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood by soprano Fleur Barron and pianist Eri Nakamura.
Note: There are also unpublished versions
availablel from the composer for two sopranos & piano, mandolin & piano, and clarinet quartet (two bass & two standard clarinets in B-flat).
hear that Andromeda—
That hayseed in her hay-
seed finery-has put
a torch to your heart
and she without even
the art of lifting her
skirt over her ankles—
Of course I love you
But if you love me,
marry a young woman!
I couldn't stand it
to live with a young
man, I being older
People do gossip
And they say about
Leda that she
once found an egg
Sappho, A New Translation, by Mary Barnard
with permission of University of California Press
Soprano Fleur Barron & pianist Eri Nakamura at Tanglewood