Our Long War
Our Long War
Our Long War (2012) for soprano, violin, and piano – 10’ (Ford)
–Commissioned by the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival
–Premiered by Hyunnah Yu, Elena Urioste, and Helen Huang
Composers keep poetry around in their brains like those important parts to appliances that you have to keep in a safe place where you won’t forget them, even though you might not use them every day. The poem has to be there waiting for just when you need it; if you’ve misplaced it in the cupboards and drawers of your mind you’ll miss out on that perfect text that speaks for your piece. So we composers scour through books and the internet and make little mental notes to ourselves...when the commission for a song comes up, we have to reach into that storage space where all of the wonderful poetry we've encountered lives, and then find what text resonates most for that moment.
Around the time I got the commission to write a song cycle for the Lake Champlain Festival a mutual friend introduced me to the extraordinary work of Katie Ford. I knew right away the quality of her poetry embodied what I have been looking to create in my music. To me, it is elegant and clear and incredibly expressive, like so many of the best works of art that hit us in the gut and we don’t have to reason through why. I read through several of her books, but it was the poem she brought to a coffee meeting one day that focused my thoughts and feelings. Ford's “Our Long War” will bring to mind the work of other wartime poets, but it is absolutely contemporary in its call to feel the effects of our many ongoing wars where there is enormous sacrifice in the midst of our relative comfort miles away. It’s a powerful message, and one that hit me in the gut the first time I read it and every time thereafter. I want my music to be another vehicle to convey the poet's meaning; more like a frame to the poem than any interpretation of my own.
I would like to thank Katie Ford for allowing me to set her moving words to music and the Lake Champlain Festival for the opportunity to do so as the commissioner of "Our Long War."