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among dawn flowers (2001)

for soprano and piano
Text by Basho

Premiered by Barbara Ann Martin in Fredericia, Denmark, 13 January 2001
Counter tenor version was premiered in Chicago by Anthony Roth Costanzo 5 September 2019.
Duration: 5 minutes

CD Available
De Toda La Eternidad

This work is available on DE TODA LA ETERNIDAD.


Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor; John Arida, piano. Filmed live as part of the 2019 Collaborative Works Festival, September 5, 2019 at Ganz Hall.


Texts by Basho


Orchid — breathing
incense into
butterfly's wings.

Spring night,
cherry —
blossom dawn.


Lightning —
stabs darkness.

How I long to see
among dawn flowers,
the face of God.

Program Note

Composing for voice is a huge passion and as a result the largest part of my catalogue is music for voice(s).  The human voice — possibly the most subtle, complex, and fragile yet forceful, flexible, seductive, and persuasive carrier of musical ideas and meanings — has always been an inspiration for and influence upon my entire musical thinking.  I sing as I compose.  When musicians ask me a question, I sing the answer.

The poetic is always in my music. I love reading and setting poetry and have set many texts over the past thirty years as the basis of vocal and choral works (Of Being is a Bird, Absolute Ocean, Daylight Divine, Earth Echoes, In My Sky at Twilight, The Rewaking, Chanting to Paradise, Song in Sorrow, Sun Songs, The Rub of Love, Hope!, Plea for Peace, among numerous others.) The titles of my compositions offer poetic images such as Aureole, Dream Threads, Bubble: Rainbow (spirit level), Capricious Angels, Incantation, Radiant Circles, Resounding Earth, Radiant Circles, Prisms of Light, Sonorous Earth, and Magic Box.

Among Dawn Flowers comprises two, 2-minute songs. The vocal part of the first is akin to breathing incense on a spring night. There is a timeless quality - all the earth has stopped for a moment.  The sounds are inner, interior, and spiritual.  The last piano note is a question mark.

The second song starts with a lightning bolt.  Energy surges outward as the pianist plays relentless, piercing, grasping-for-the-face-of-God-gestures.  There is no turning back.  Suddenly, we land in a prayer when the counter tenor sings, with love and focus, "How I long to see among dawn flowers, the face of God." 

— Augusta Read Thomas

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Augusta Read Thomas's works, please contact G. Schirmer Inc..