Nights Not Spent Alone (2015)

Three songs for Mezzo-soprano and Piano   10 minutes

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. 

Jonathan Dove



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.