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Nigel Keay - Voices of the Air (2023)

Full Score - Voices of the Air for mezzo-soprano and piano PDF, 8 pages

Version for Voice, Cello & Piano - full score PDF, Cello part PDF

Voices of the Air is a setting of the poem by Katherine Mansfield for mezzo-soprano and piano, and was composed in July 2023 for Sherry Grant and Tessa Romano. Between each stanza is a micro-interlude for the piano alone, thus as a consequence the song has a somewhat undulating form, where the music of the verses tends toward the minimal, and that of the piano generates more activity, in effect a wave motion in reference to the "sea and wind" of the text. Concurrently with working on Voices of the Air I was preparing a work by Arnold Trowell for an upcoming performance, a work that was almost certainly composed in Katherine Mansfield's lifetime, and we know that Mansfield would've been familiar with Trowell's music, so it seemed appropriate, while setting the poem, to be immersed in this particular sound-world.

Voices of the Air was written in 1916. Katherine Mansfield's brother, Leslie Heron Beauchamp died 6 October 1915 aged 21 years old and is buried at Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Voices of the Air

But then there comes that moment rare
When for no cause that I can find
The little voices of the air
Sound above all the sea and wind.

The sea and wind do then obey.
And sighing sighing double notes
Of double basses, content to play
A droning chord for the little throats.

The little throats that sing and rise
Up into the light with lovely ease
And a kind of magical sweet surprise
To hear and know themselves for these —

For these little voices: the bee, the fly
The leaf that taps — the pod that breaks —
The breeze on the grass-tops bending by —
The shrill quick sound that the insect makes —

The insect hanging upon a stem
And the beads of water dropping along
The mosses, the big rocks and diadem
And its infinite silent song.

The silent song so faint so rare
That the heart must not beat
Nor the quick blood run
To hear the inspired voices of the air.

Upcoming performances;

Previous Performances;

Sunday 4th February 2024 at 6.30pm. The Parisian ensemble "Traces d'Aujourd'hui" gave a concert at église protestante unie de Boulogne-Billancourt (92), 117 rue du Château, 92100 Boulogne.

Saturday 14 October, 4.30pm, Manoir de Bel-Ébat, Avon. Kayla Collingwood - contralto, Sébastien Hurtaud - celle and Isabelle Dutel, piano. Programme of the event.

posterof concert