Cedille Records presents a career-spanning collection of sublime songs by celebrated Chicago composer Lita Grier, who has crafted contemporary settings for works by illustrious English and American poets.
These mostly world-premiere recordings project a musical panorama of the human experience from childhood to adulthood and beyond. Here are timeless truths told through enchanting poetry in settings that underscore the richness of their imagery.
The program opens with Five Songs for Children, with words by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Lowell, Walter de la Mare, Christina Rossetti, and Emily Huntington Miller.
Light and whimsical, Sneezles is based on an A.A. Milne poem about the author's favorite character, Christopher Robin. In Five Songs from "A Shropshire Lad," Grier's music underscores the urgency of the carpe diem message of A.E. Housman's poetry. Two Songs from Emily Dickinson are, by turns, wistful and impressionist.
The album's centerpiece, the Ravinia-comissioned, ten-song cycle Songs from Spoon River, comprises powerful portraits based on texts from Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology, in which fictional residents of a rural Illinois town reflect on their lives from beyond the grave.
This first-ever recording devoted exclusively to Grier's music concludes with Reflections of a Peacemaker: five life-affirming verses by the late teen poet Mattie J.T. Stepanek (1990-2004), sung by the Chicago Children's Choir conducted by Josephine Lee, with John Goodwin at the piano.