The Rose of Midnight

Composed in 2013, revised in 2016
Duration: c. 6-7 minutes
Commissioned by the Esoterics as a winner of the International Composers’ Prize at the POLYPHONOS competition.

Awards

2016 – Brehm Prize in Choral Composition – University of Michigan
2014 – SOCAN Foundation Awards – Godfrey Ridout Awards

Poem

by Vachel Lindsay

The moon is now an opening flower,
The sky a cliff of blue.
The moon is now a silver rose;
Her pollen is the dew.

Her pollen is the mist that swings
Across her face of dreams:
Her pollen is the April rain,
Filling the April streams.

Her pollen is eternal life,
Endless ambrosial foam.
It feeds the swarming stars and fills
Their hearts with honeycomb.

The earth is but a passion-flower
With blood upon his crown.
And what shall fill his failing veins
And lift his head, bowed down?

This cup of peace, this silver rose
Bending with fairy breath
Shall lift that passion-flower, the earth
A million times from Death!

Programme Notes

The Rose of Midnight was commissioned by The Esoterics choir as part of the prize for their international POLYPHONOS competition for a concert named Eternity, which honoured poets who took their own lives. Lindsay’s poem, The Rose of Midnight, attracted my attention for its beautiful imagery, and the search for peace and refuge in nature. While most of us view the sun as the bringer of life, his days are so deeply sunk in darkness that the moon is the bringer of eternal life, waking the passion-flower of earth from death with tireless persistence. The darkness and the moonlight are constant indispensable elements of Lindsay’s life, and appear frequently in his poetry. My setting portrays some of his fluid imagery through gently sweeping lines that blossom, as the earth blossoms in the moonlight, while at the same time reflecting on the sacred subtext of his poem.

Performance History

September 20th, 2013 – Seattle, Washington – Performed by The Esoterics including interview with composers – concert: AEONIA – Queen Anne Christian Church

September 21st, 2013 – Seattle, WA – Performed by the Esoterics at St Joseph Catholic Church

September 22nd, 2013  – Seattle, Washington – Performed by The Esoterics at the West Seattle Holy Rosary Catholic Church

September 24st, 2016 – Ann Arbor, Michigan – University of Michigan Chamber Choir at Hill Auditorium

October 23rd, 2016 – Ann Arbor, Michigan – University of Michigan Chamber Choir at University of Michigan Museum of Art

Recording

Esoterics, Seattle, WA, conducted by Eric Banks

University of Michigan Chamber Choir, Ann Arbor, MI, conducted by Jerry Blackstone (Performance with 2016 Revisions)

Score