Cello Songs


Note: This is a digital score (PDF).

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Note: *”Winter” is available here as a stand-alone movement. 

Also available for Solo Voice.

THE STORY

“Cello Songs” was commissioned by Doug Bella and David Hunt for the St. Charles Singers in memory of Doris J. Hunt.

On my living room wall, I have a letterpress broadside of the poem “Cello” by Dorianne Laux. Its central image is a dead tree, fallen into the arms of a living one. As years pass, it “…rubs its fallen body / against the living, building / its dead music / making its raw mark, / wearing the tough bough down / as it moans and bends, the deep / rosined bow sound of the living / shouldering the dead.”

Todd Boss, a frequent collaborator of mine, has created a new text inspired by Dorianne’s poem. Intended as love songs, "Cello Songs" uses the four seasons as a structure to examine how the cello's richness and complexity might mean very different things to us at different times in our lives. The work moves through the seasons, from the gentle breezes of summer, to the fiery colors of autumn, to a soulful melancholy in winter, and ending with a rousing, beebop jazz finale of raindrops in spring! Also, each movement focuses on a different playing technique of the cello: summer - long tones, autumn - spiccato, winter - glissando, spring - pizzicato.


INSTRUMENTATION
SATB with divisi, cello, piano

DURATION
12:00

TEXT
Cello Songs
by Todd Boss

I. Summer

How sweetly
summer wheat
opens its fragrance
on the air!

How can it be
in our nature
to make war,
when
with wholesomeness
and sweetness
we braid kernels
of despair?

II. Autumn

“Flames”
on its back where
the woodgrain
flares,

a cello matches
a player’s
inner torches

till one red roar
in horsehair
and wire

burns so bright
it overturns
the night,

and its light
lights the world
entire!

III. Winter

When a dead tree
crosswise
in a living tree’s
arms lies
balefully bowing
in the glade,

winter
seems colder,
the earth a little
older,

the living
more forgiving,

and loving
well made.

IV. Spring

Each wet splat slaps what dirt keeps trapped like
each plucked note knocks at hearts locked shut.


1 review for Cello Songs

  1. HOWARD MEHARG

    Wonderful poetry! Can’t wait to hear the finished musical work.

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