3 Songs About Words

Song Collection

"Jeremy Gill offers a complex musical treatment of the three poems. In the first song, 'Words,' the piano sounds the alarm with a percussive and dramatic introduction. The soprano then ominously demands, 'Sit there, listen, listen to my voice.' The piano finishes with a conclusion reflecting the opening.

Date: 2009Composer: Jeremy Gill

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“In the music of the second song, ‘On Hearing a Very Famous Man Speak Profoundly,’ Gill manages to capture the ironic humor suggested by the title. The piano here is distant from any concept of mere accompaniment. The soprano’s demands are equally challenging. The text, written in 1959, was inspired by a philosophical lecture at Wesleyan University. While the speaker opined about the nature of reality, a ‘gray bird on a gray bush’ could be seen through the window behind him ‘unconcerned but there.’

“In the third song, ‘Please Take My Words,’ Gill makes musical hay with certain phrases of the text referring to ‘long crescendos,’ ‘subtle harmonies,’ and ‘gentle ritards.’ All three are most ingeniously incorporated into the music as are the bells of the final line. Lyricism prevails in this song within its thoroughly modern harmonies.

“The songs were commissioned by Concert Artists Guild in honor of Market Square Concerts’ 30th Anniversary season in 2012 and were written for soprano Sarah Wolfson, winner of the 2007 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, who premiered it with pianist Renate Rohlfling on May 16, 2012 at a Market Square Concerts performance at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. With a clarinet part added for clarinetist David Shifrin, the first song was performed in 2015 at Chamber Music Northwest.”

–Lucy Miller Murray


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