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I lost a world the other day : for mezzo-soprano and cello

by Moya Henderson (2014)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Halcyon, Jenny Duck-Chong, Geoffrey Gartner from the CD Kingfisher



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Kingfisher : songs for Halcyon.

Library shelf no. CD 2724 [Not for loan]

I lost a world the other day


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Work Overview

Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886), an enigmatic poet, if ever there was one. So few poems published during her lifetime, now a blazing talent right across the English-speaking world. The first line of this poem, 'I lost a world the other day': hyperbole or throw-away line? Or both? And so typical of this most inventive of voices. The entries online will frustrate, if you want to learn more about this poet. Dickinson was a recluse and lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, most of her days. In this poem, 'world' seems to be code for a person, even someone ED worships as a goddess. Who other than a goddess is adorned by a diadem of stars. And is she addressing God when she pleads to 'Sir' for that 'world' to be restored? The word, ducats, is quaint for us today. Perhaps for ED it was street-speak, just as we might refer to a 'mint of gold' or a 'squillion' in today's argot.' Moya Henderson, © March, 2014

Work Details

Year: 2014

Instrumentation: Mezzo-soprano, cello.

Duration: 4 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional and high AMEB grades.

First performance: by Halcyon, Jenny Duck-Chong, Geoffrey Gartner at Kingfisher - Songs for Halcyon (Music Workshop, Sydney Conservatorium of Music) on 15 Mar 2014

The composer notes the following about this work:
As usual, I am interested in an intricate blend of melody and counterpoint. Several people have commented on its links with the Baroque. To that I respond by saying that Bach was on my mind quite a bit as I was writing the piece. This would be because the only accompanying instrument is the cello.

This song is one of a collection of chamber works under the title Kingfisher, Songs for Halcyon. The songs were gifts from the composers to celebrate 15 years of music-making by Australia’s leading ensemble for vocal chamber music.

A fabled bird identified with the kingfisher, the halcyon had the power to calm the wind and the waves while it nested on the sea during the winter solstice. The composers took their inspiration from the word 'halcyon', each displaying their own unique voice in writing for singers and instruments. The 21 songs represent the cream of vocal composition in Australia and offer a lasting tribute to the relationships formed between Halcyon and the composers who have written for them over the years.

The composer notes: Here is what Peter McCallum wrote about the piece in his review for the Sydney Morning Herald. 'Moya Henderson's I Lost a World the Other Day (text by Emily Dickinson) was reminiscent of Bach, with its well-shaped, intricate melodic line over a stylised, quasi-symbolic cello obbligato.'

Performances of this work

16 Apr 2016: at Of Earth and Stars (St Bede's Anglican Church, Drummoyne). Featuring Jenny Duck-Chong, Geoffrey Gartner.

15 Mar 2014: at Kingfisher - Songs for Halcyon (Music Workshop, Sydney Conservatorium of Music). Featuring Halcyon, Jenny Duck-Chong, Geoffrey Gartner.

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