Star Songs
for Soprano and String Quartet (2019)
by Ron Hannah

  1. Distances poem by Bliss Carman (1861-1929)
  2. Peace On Earth poem by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
  3. A Beam of Light poem by John Jerome Rooney (1866-1934)
  4. The More Loving One poem by W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
  5. Man Is His Own Star poem by John Fletcher (1579-1625)

Duration: about 11.5 minutes

     Following the performance of a theatre piece written and directed by Andrea Mellis (my wife and inspiration!) in Vienna in June of 2019, I sat with the cast at a restaurant table. One of the performers, a strikingly expressive soprano named Wilma Maller, whose singing had just impressed me mightily, leaned across the table and asked me if I had anything for soprano and string quartet. Sadly, I had to say no, but with such an impetus I quickly remedied that absence. By the end of August I had written 5 songs about the stars, how they enchant us, puzzle us, lure us, even threaten us. Wilma has expressed great delight in these pieces. She promised to perform them and the following July, she did (accompanied by members of the Varietas-Ensemble, during a brief respite from Covid-19 lockdowns). The priest in the Schubert Church, where the performance took place, told me the last movement gave him shivers. What more could a composer ask? Click on the link for more details.

Here is one of the poems, an odd sort of lullaby to give you an idea, and yes, it is about the stars:

by William Carlos Williams

The Archer is wake!
The Swan is flying!
Gold against blue
An Arrow is lying.
There is hunting in heaven--
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Bears are abroad!
The Eagle is screaming!
Gold against blue
Their eyes are gleaming!
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Sisters lie
With their arms intertwining;
Gold against blue
Their hair is shining!
The Serpent writhes!
Orion is listening!
Gold against blue
His sword is glistening!
There is hunting in heaven--
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

     The set is in my usual style of dissonant tonality, accessible but not easy, and most rewarding if you persevere. The score is available at the Canadian Music Centre library for in-house perusal only. Click below to contact me for further information.