Song to the Beloved
Soprano and Orchestra
A new sacred work for soprano and orchestra
Amidst a very dark period in my life, my friend and mentor Carlos handed me a copy of Daniel Ladinsky’s Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and the West and told me to read one poem from it every day. I did so religiously over the next few months, thirsty as I was for any indication that God might see me and love me. I was immediately astonished at the candor, beauty, and simplicity of these prayers, translated so winsomely by Ladinsky, and I was touched most of all to find that the poems echoed my own longings — to love and to be loved by God. As I found comfort and solace in these mystical verses, I felt compelled to give them musical utterance. Perhaps the most impactful poem was St. Francis’s “Dear God,” and it is this poem which I set in Song to the Beloved.
Song to the Beloved is a sacred work in two sections: an unsung, fragile beauty that becomes shrouded in darkness, and a sung prayer which cries out to God amidst this darkness. It is a song of despair and hope, grief and longing, darkness and light. It is suffering and a response to suffering. The first section is played by the orchestra only, and the second begins when the solo soprano enters with “Dear God.” It is, in the end, a conscious experience of God that we long for in our suffering: “My divine love, my love/ please let us touch your face.”
Winner of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Orchestral Composition Competition, 2018
Premiered by Shelby Smith and Biola Symphony Orchestra (Marlin Owen, conductor), La Mirada, CA, December 15, 2015
Read by Jackie Stevens and CCM Philharmonia (Dr. Aik Khai Pung, conductor), Cincinnati, OH, November 29, 2017
Read by Jackie Stevens and CCM Philharmonia (Dr. Aik Khai Pung, conductor), Cincinnati, OH, April 11, 2018
Text used is “Dear God,” from Love Poems From God, Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, by Daniel Ladinsky, 2002, used with permission.