Song Cycle

The Song Cycle for tenor and soprano with piano was written following the composer's completion of a course at UBC taught by Dr. Richard Kurth which explored the relationship between music and poetry.  The in-depth study of vocal music inspired Yvonne to pursue the composition of a work which would explore the intriguing connection between language, musical meaning, and understanding.  The goal was to create a set of songs which would each explore different elements of musical expression, searching for the perfect combination of music and word which would ensure that each element remained autonomous yet at the same time completely interconnected.


The poetry of Peter Gillespie provided the perfect inspiration since Yvonne has always been intrigued by his writing, not just the poetic constructions but especially by the intensity of the hidden or underlying meaning.  When setting the poetry, the piano score and the vocal lines needed to have their own multiple layers of meaning and not just provide a picturesque or imitative background.  The music needed to be able to be expressively self-sufficient, yet when combined with the words would allow the listener to experience a more compelling and expressive understanding and experience.  The Song Cycle provides alternate readings of the poetry and ultimately provides the listener with the opportunity to discover new meaning both in the words and in the music.  This work was dedicated to Dr. Richard Kurth.


Instrumentation:  Soprano, Tenor, and Piano

Duration:  16 minutes



Performed by Kevin Zakresky and Ms. Avril


1.   Alive once more


Droplets hang in timeless space

reflecting sun’s first light

suspended in our web of life

prism to our sanctum


misty shore knows mist once more

stealing silently

seeping through as morning dew

creeping playfully


Morning zephyr brushes by

gentle in its call

raising muse of calmer tides

tranquil in its blessing


forest floor alive once more

bending with each breath

softly sways in peaceful play

hauntingly bereft  


Waves of white fall crashing down

piercing to the core

beating drums of vacant cares

hearing our desires


Ocean’s roar folds in once more

boasting boisterously

calling out in endless shouts

setting spirits free


2.   Another Night


Sleepless . . .

somnolent in my wake

persistent mind condemns

thoughts to hopeless sake


Cutting . . .

through logical frontiers

insanity prevails

penetrating fear


Telling . . .

clandestine tales on loan

grave horrors that I’ve known

haunting through my bones


Echo . . .

repeating senseless rhymes

restating inept tolls

rendering me blind


Hopeless . . .

mute torment in my breadth

unconsciousness evades

boundaries of unrest  


Waking . . .

Sapping thoughts I rue

Culling sense no verdict

Spent, I start anew


3.   A Ripple to my Thoughts


a crimson sky

a jade blanket

a stony peak

a gibber brook


on crunching snow

on echo’s plea

on whispering nights

on soothing tones


in fire’s pant

in sprig’s specter

in rainy haze

in spring’s new tang


I see, I hear, I smell time gone

I feel my life’s faint paths

I taste the joy of looking back

a ripple to my thoughts


4.   ... of losing you


of burning cheek

of blurry eyes

of razing mind

of misplaced heart


of losing you

of losing hope

of letting go

of life


© 2010 Peter Gillespie