Who will cry for her?

for mezzo-soprano and guitar

This text was written by Rev. Kathleen W. Haynes in April 2020, after she officiated a
funeral which, due to COVID-19 restrictions, was sparsely attended and socially-distanced. During this time, mourners are compelled to find ways to connect with loved ones without the traditional practice of physically gathering together.

Vocal range: G3–D5. Arrangements for other voice types and piano are in progress.

Watch the Bowers Fader Duo performing Who will cry for her?:

I only learned of her death the evening before.
I made a few phone calls out in the drizzle in the backyard
because I don’t have good reception in my home.
I prayed over the phone with someone as the church bells rang next door,
drowning out my words
and as I said “Amen” my voice began to break.
I loved her but I hadn’t seen her in months.
And I wept for her.
The next morning, I woke to memories of her.
She and I had talked about this day.
It wasn’t much of what I wanted for her.
But I was there. Her friend was there.
Her daughter and granddaughter were there.
There were almost more people from the funeral home than those to say goodbye.
I was able to sing.
The song she said many times she wanted at her funeral.
And after we committed her body to the ground and I gave the benediction,
I began to cry again.
This was something I had been trained not to do.
Something lectured against, something said to be selfish.
But the words, “Who will cry for her?” rang clear in my mind and heart.
I have learned over the years that sometimes it is I
who needs to give grief permission to be here.
“Who will cry for her?”
I will cry for her.
I will cry for her as one who loved her.
I will cry for all those who because of this bizarre day and age cannot be present at her burial.
“Who will cry for her?”
I will cry for her.
And as I cried, my eyes met her granddaughter’s eyes.
We could not embrace, we could not stand close, but we could both cry.

On Being Interrupted

for mezzo-soprano and guitar

For decades, studies have documented that men interrupt women who are speaking, particularly in the workplace, with much higher frequency than they interrupt other men (or than women interrupt anyone).* There are many theories as to why this may be and how to remedy it, but the incidence of interruption does not seem to have changed much over the years. This piece lists some of the tactics “experts” recommend women use to avoid being interrupted. Continue reading 

Apart/ment

for four treble voices, alto flute, bass clarinet, cello, piano

About 60,000 people, including some 24,000 children, sleep in New York’s municipal homeless shelters each night, and thousands more sleep unsheltered on the streets. This diverse population includes people from nearly all walks of life, although the primary cause of homelessness for the majority is the severe shortage of affordable housing.

Continue reading 

La traición de las imágenes
(The Treachery of Images)

for mezzo-soprano, flute, viola, contrabass and prepared piano

This song cycle is my response to eight surrealist works by René Magritte, whose famous The Treachery of Images highlights the impossibility of art to truly reflect reality. Magritte described his creations as “images which conceal nothing [and] evoke mystery… [they do] not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either; it is unknowable.” I have tried to capture the same spirit of mystery in both the words and the music.
Continue reading 

Выздоровление (Recovery)

for soprano or mezzo-soprano and piano

This pieces is available in two transpositions for high (range C4–G#5) and low (B♭3–F#5) voices. The score can be purchased from Gumroad (US Letter PDFs only). View a score sample of the low voice version.

Watch soprano Abigail Chapman and pianist Fang-Yi Chu performing the high voice version:

Text in Russian by K. N. Batyushkov Continue reading