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Mythweaver : for soprano and piano

by Kevin March (2010)

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Mythweaver : soprano and piano / Kevin March ; based on the poetry of Sappho.

Library shelf no. 783.67547/MAR 2 [Available for loan]

Voice of Australia


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Voice of Australia : Volume II / compiled by Wendy Dixon and David Miller.

Library shelf no. 783.2542/VOI 1 [Not for loan]

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Work Overview

The poetry of Sappho has come to us, down through the centuries, primarily through three means: 1) one complete poem, 2) fragments surviving on papyrus, and 3) citation by other authors in instances where the original has been otherwise lost. We know also of a few other lost works which were mentioned by other writers but not quoted, leaving us with the knowledge of their existence but nothing of their content.

In the case of the poetic fragments, some poems, such as The Moon has Set, are nearly complete, missing only a few lines, while others are so fragmented as to contain only a few lines, a few words, or in some cases only a single word.

The poetry in this cycle is drawn from citations (Stars Around the Full Moon and Lady Dawn) and fragments (Beautiful Things). Two of the texts (The Moon Has Set, and Sweet Oil) are the result of combining citations with fragmentary texts of similar theme and tone. The brackets indicate places where the text has been lost.

In composing Mythweaver, I wanted to find a way of depicting these lost words, or to put it another way, this voice whose words have been lost. Wanting neither to simply ignore the gaps in the text nor to force upon the singer and listener text that wasn't Sappho's, I sought a third option. In several places I wrote new text to replace the lost text and set this text to music along with the rest of the poem. Once finished, I removed the text from the music, leaving the singer to wordlessly voice the sentiment of the poem. Though unsung, the added text appears in italics as a reference to assist the singer in conveying the overall tone of the poem. The singer has the option of performing the non-word syllables in the score as they are written or they may choose to use other appropriate syllables.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: Soprano, piano.

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Stars around the full moon -- II. The moon has set -- III. Sweet oil -- IV. Beautiful things  -- V. Lady dawn -- VI. Yes! Radiant lyre!

First performance: by Judith Dodsworth, Stefan Cassomenos at Sappho's Butterflies (The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre) on 9 Apr 2014


Performances of this work

9 Apr 2014: at Sappho's Butterflies (The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring Judith Dodsworth, Stefan Cassomenos.

22 Aug 2013: at Synaesthesia Triple Bill at Mudfest 2013 (Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne).

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