Text by William Bronk
Total duration ca. 4'45"
Single movement work
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Audio clip performed by Brett King and Coro Volante
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Midsummer is one setting in a series of choral settings of modern American poetry that examine transcendent themes through a secular lens. I have been composing since 2013, a collection I have entitled An American Mass. A poet of particular conceptual inventiveness, like Wallace Stevens, Bronk in this poem contrasts the painting-like tranquility of his ‘green world’ with some startling language and images: Someone looking into a mirror and seeing their own back, and Bronk’s desire preserve the serene moment’s immediacy with the same intensity “as much as if an atrocity had happened”. This unexpectedly dark line, an exhortation to remember the ‘green world’ serves only to heighten by contrast the joy of his pronouncement that “the earth is beautiful beyond all change.” The poem and the setting capture a moment of nearly-painful intensity, a suspended moment when beauty makes us yearn for immortality.
Text “Midsummer” by William Bronk. Text copyright The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.