Songs of Forever

Duration: 25 minutes

Written: 1991

Premiered: Arpil 11, 1991

Canadian Chamber Ensemble

Conductor: Peter Paul Koprowski

Mezzo-soprano: Gabrielle Prata

Movements:

  1. Rage
  2. Time
  3. Seeking
  4. Serenity
  5. The Journey

Background:

Although primarily known for his orchestral compositions, Koprowski has written a considerable number of vocal works.

Songs of Forever is set to a text by Catherine Sivier. It was conceived as a companion piece to his other concerti, giving the voice (mezzo-soprano) a similar soloistic presence within the context of an orchestra.
The work is in five contrasting movements and is approximately 25 minutes in duration.

Songs of Forever was commissioned by the Canadian Chamber Ensemble with assistance from the Canada Council. It was premiered in April 1991 with soloist Gabrielle Prata under the direction of the composer, and was broadcast the same year on CBC Stereo.



RAGE

The world rages like a winter wind,
clambering about with icy tentacles
around and around
pummelling and assaulting
in ever-narrowing circles
squeezing the life from your lungs,
sapping incessantly the marrow of your being.

How to evade the whirlwind
to abate the gale
to warm the frozen
to confront Time
and leash it
and dictate it's pace.
The shifting ice locks all in it's deathly grasp
not knowing how
or why
or when,
but suddenly, shockingly
immobilized as a statue
sealed in a tableau
but despairing.
Escape comes with spring
with summer?

Winter seems endless!

TIME

I will dictate to you!
Why must you thunder in my head?
I will not be fettered or hobbled
I hear your marching feet
as a thousand, thousand soldiers

marching in my head;
Seeking to drone away my soul – my self.
I will not be fettered or hobbled!
I will not let them or any force unseen!

I must not let them
I must not let you!

Why?
Why must you beat in my head
Why must you arrest my heart
Why?
Why must you beat in my head!

SEEKING

But no!
The marchers, the drummers, they will never cease!
We can but lessen their beating for a fleeting moment in time.
It is hopeless

The world rages forever
Pummelling- propelling us forward,
At times it seems backward — but forever onward

Toward what?
Why do we struggle, now this way, now that;
Like so much chaff on a summer's wind.

Why must we seek?
As blindly as a baby seeks its mothers warmth and draws its
strength and purpose from its source, will too draw purpose
from knowing?

Will we ever know?
Should we know?
Oh! what blissful calm!

SERENITY

I watch the wind tickling the crests of the waves on my lake
and imagine this is my mind being so touched!
So I sink beneath the cooling waters
down, down where all is light and shadows – to nothingness
an inner dwelling place
Where you cannot find me and I am at rest!

And from my dwelling place I laugh softly at you
You cannot touch me, the marching has ended,
the soldiers are banished – You are banished!

All is calm, serene, blissful, unearthly, simple.

Hope springs forever!?

THE JOURNEY

So we travel on
searching and seeking the answer to Time.
Elusive as a whisper on the night breeze.

And so we travel on
Day turns to night - night to day - the seasons follow - summer to winter, that endless
bleakness where all lies suspended in a
deathlike trance

We travel on
Forever we circle on and on, around and around, months – years
endless and bleak.

We wait for spring - for life!
With spring comes summer, with summer - comes...

We travel on and on
Peace, that calm, blissful, unearthly...

Is there a resting place...?
I watch the wind tickling the crests of the waves on my lake
and imagine this is my mind being so touched!
So I sink beneath the cooling waters
down, down where all is light and shadow - to nothingness
an inner dwelling-place
Where you cannot touch me and I am at rest...

poetry by Catherine Sivier