Songs of Memory and Earth

Songs of Memory and Earth sets three poems by Shannon Berry and is one of a number of collaborations between the composer and poet. These poems (“Like Spring and Sunlight,” “How We Learned Sleep,” and “Trees Learned Rain in Childhood”) are drawn from her collection Family of Origin. The first movement, “Like Spring and Sunlight,” features a distinctive poetic structure that is reflected in the musical materials. The second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the following stanza, and the melodic material mirrors the same formal scheme. The second movement, “How We Learned Sleep,” employs more chromatic harmonic language than the outer movements, and the pitch material is largely generated from the opening chords and melodic material presented in the first four measures. The final movement returns to the lighter texture and more diatonic language of the first movement. This setting relies on an ostinato pattern in the piano through much of the movement, though the ostinato undergoes a number of transformations allowing for linear development grounded in a cohesive foundation.