Three songs for Mezzo-soprano and Piano
When we first met to explore possible themes for a group of songs, Kitty Whately introduced me to a selection of poetry with which she felt a particular affinity. I was immediately drawn to the provocative figure of Edna St Vincent Millay. I had considered setting “What lips my lips have kissed…” some years ago, but the other two poems in Nights Not Spent Alone were new to me. Together they paint a vivid portrait of this popular poet, who inspired a generation with her frankness about her unconventional life, and the skill and power of her writing. I particularly enjoy the tension between the formal control of the verse and the anarchic passions to which it testifies.
Text by Edna St. Vincent Millay, published by Harper & Brothers Publishers
Commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the Royal Philharmonic Society as part of the New Generation Artists Scheme
First performance: 9th July 2015, Kitty Whately (mezzo-soprano) and Simon Lepper (piano), Pitville Pump Room, Cheltenham Festival.