Smoking, Drinking, Messing Around
Listen to a performance by the New Hampshire Master Chorale conducted by Dan Perkins:
It occurred to me that I had done a lot of emotional “heavy lifting” in my compositions over a period of about two years—from a work commemorating the end of the Civil War, to a Requiem, to digital music for a multimedia work about the destruction and recreation of existence itself! So, I wanted to write something bright and breezy for the New Hampshire Master Chorale, and I suggested the title to Dan straight off (though I might have used a different phrase for “Messing Around”).
Once we had the title, I contacted my friend, colleague, and frequent collaborator Liz Ahl to ask if she had any poems that fit well with the suggested subject matter. As her work always does, the poems that Liz shared with me moved me profoundly, and I had an extremely difficult time narrowing down text choices for the piece. And as always with Liz’s work, the depth, passion, and subtlety of her words led me down emotional paths I hadn’t expected to travel in this piece—not only the bright, breezy byways promised by the title, but also the roads of love, loss, experience, and wisdom that criss-cross those byways.
"When We Smoked" was first published in The Women's Review of Books (May 2002). "The Drunks" was first published in Poetry Motel (#27, Summer 1999). "Dinner Party"was first published in Little Patuxent Review (#17, Winter 2015)."Bourbon at Midlife" was first published in the Pittsburgh Poetry Review, (Vol. 1, No. 1, October 2015). All texts copyright © by Liz Ahl and reprinted with permission.
Key words: full chorus, woodwind, woodwinds, secular, fun, humor, serious, nostalgia, aging, midlife, vice, vices, memory, music, modern, contemporary, classical, contemporary