Equations of the light
for soprano, clarinet, and double bass
Poem by Dana Gioia
2017, ca. 9-10 minutes
Katelyn Isaacson, soprano - Micah Wright, clarinet - Ryan Baird, double bass
As improbable as it may sound, when Ryan Baird asked me to compose a vocal-chamber work for his doctoral bass recital, I selected “Equations of the Light” out of Dana Gioia’s 99 Poems simply by looking at the title. I am always drawn to evocative words and images, and this particular title completely lit up my imagination once I finally made my way to it near the end of the collection. The subsequent poem beneath proved to be just as fruitful. Gioia crafts a scene of both excitement and nostalgic melancholy; this quiet street frozen in time for a beautiful moment as a pair of lovers glimpse a future that never come to be. The bass and clarinet converse together at first, and then begin to drift away as the singer (could be man or woman) illuminates the action. It is my hope to have given a musical life to the magic and intimacy within Gioia’s poetry.