Entwine Our Tongues: Sapphic Fragments (2019)

Soprano, Oboe, Oboe (doubling English Horn), Clarinet, Clarinet (doubling Bass Clarinet)

Text by Jordi Alonso

Total duration ca. 11'

Six movement work

I. (Fragment 32)

II. (Fragment 27)

III. (Fragment 51)

IV. (Fragment 169)

V. (Fragment 96) –

VI. (Fragment 149)

Premiered on August 2, 2019

In Baltimore, MD

by Katie Procell (Soprano), Andrea Copland (Oboe 1), Garrett Hale (Oboe 2 / English Horn), Brian Tracey (Clarinet 1), and Jennifer Hughson (Clarinet 2 / Bass Clarinet)

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $15

Translation can be a tricky matter. The challenge is compounded by orders of magnitude when the sum total material one has to translate is a single word or phrase. Yet this is the state in which most of Sappho’s poetry exists. The vast majority of translations of Sappho’s words, then, are executed by a mixture of scholarly inference and poetic license, tentatively guessing at intentions. I imagine that tentative feeling is similar to the nervous energy of attraction, of trying to sense mutual chemistry, the age-old binary question. Alonso’s translations (from Greek and transubstantiations from single words and fragments to stanzas) are clean, concise, and unadorned. In plain, unaffected language they convey the feelings of the speaker, the images, the scene. Who is the speaker? Possibly Sappho, though in Fragment 32, she almost completely renounces her own agency as a creator, instead serving as a conduit for and at the pleasure of the inspiring gods and muses. This was a common ancient conception of artistry and inspiration and, I think, a good way to conceive of the singer in this song cycle. Who are the I’s of the songs? I think of each one as an emotional state or attitude, inspired and enacted by desire: pride, modesty (possibly false), selfish possessiveness, flirtatiousness, rumination, tenderness. The singer is the conduit for the states illustrated in the texts, providing one further translation in this series, of text into song, bringing these poems closer to the original Sapphic fragments by their delivery, if not their language.


Honeyvoiced poems by Jordi Alonso (2014) are used with permission of the author and the publisher, XOXOX Press of Gambier, Ohio.

Honeyvoiced (ISBN 978-1880977-37-8) is distributed globally through Ingram and is available through independent bookstores and at Amazon, as well as other online booksellers.