Goddess Amalgam for Soprano, String Quartet, and Piano (2008) - 6'
for Laura Jane Miller
Text by Jessica Beyer
*(also may be performed with Soprano and Piano only)
Premiere: April 4, 2009 - Pitts/Hoffmann Honors Recital
Emory University Schwartz Center for Performing Arts
Laura Jane Miller, Soprano
Diana Barbour, Piano
The Vega String Quartet
The creation of Goddess Amalgam stemmed from a unique and exciting collaboration of three different candidates for Honors at Emory University. When I approached soprano Laura Jane Miller about working with her on one of my new compositions, we immediately began the search for a text that would best suit our project. Soon afterwards, she sent me a poem written for her by friend and fellow Emory student, Jessica Beyer. The poem, Goddess Amalgam, was a Christmas gift and was inspired by Laura Jane’s personality, talents, and friendship. I could not resist the ethereal quality of the writing and immediately started crafting melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic themes that complemented the beautiful text.
In finding ways to bring the text to life, I wanted to combine unabashedly tonal harmonies and melodic lines with a free flowing rhythmic structure. The frequent use of triple against duple rhythms gives the piece a fluid quality similar to that of the text in its original form. The piano accompaniment and the optional string orchestration allow the soprano to function as a soloist and, at times, to blend in as a member of the ensemble with the other voices.
Goddess Amalgam begins with subtle chords played by the piano that delay the establishment of the key of C, first heard with the entrance of the soprano. The piece then ascends to a gradual but dramatic development into the eventual climax, intricately following the text’s emotional contour. As the final phrase revisits the opening thematic material, the harmonic rhythm and melody eventually fade in a manner similar to that of the text’s final lines: “The spark of your voice descends, lights like a bird on the verse that sprung you, and ignites.”
Goddess Amalgam is dedicated with great admiration to Laura Jane Miller: an incredible musician, a fascinating scholar, and a wonderful friend. My experience at Emory has been greatly enhanced by her friendship.