Love and Madness Online Program


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Below you will find the program titles and texts for the 2018 concert series, Love and Madness.  Read them ahead of the concert or during!  For concert dates visit our Performances page.

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First Half

Second Half

First Half

Tota Pulchra Es (2000)

by Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978)

Renowned choral composer Ola Gjeilo writes predominantly sacred music to traditional texts; he was inspired to write Tota Pulchra Es after hearing Duruflé’s setting of the same antiphon. Tota Pulchra Es is an ancient prayer to the Virgin Mary, and is essentially a love song, extolling Mary’s many virtues and beauties. Gjeilo divides the prayer into three sections, reflecting on each section with tenderness.

Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.

Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol.
Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.

Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Tota pulchra es, Maria.

You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in you.

Your clothing is white as snow,
and your face is like the sun.
You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in you.

You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you give honour to our people.
You are all beautiful, Mary.

       —4th century antiphon


Poor Wayfaring Stranger (2006)

arr. by Moira Smiley

American singer/composer Moira Smiley writes the following about the next piece: “This iconic American folk song is associated with both sacred and secular sources. My arrangement is influenced by African-American spirituals, circle songs and the rhythm of work songs - with call and response and syncopation built in. The simple stomp pattern, and later, the claps are there to unify the singers, show solidarity and strength.” Smiley’s rendition has a sense of foreboding (and a touch of hopefulness) as this lost soul endures the hardships of life and longs for relief. This song introduces a set of three songs about journeys, to or from loved ones, all threatened with “dark clouds.”

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
a trav’ling through this world of woe. But there’s no sickness, toil, nor danger in that bright world to which I go.

I know dark clouds will gather o’er me. I know my way is rough and steep
Yet beauteous fields lie just before me And lilies grow where angels sleep.

I’m going there to see my mother. I’m going there no more to roam I’m just a going over Jordan
I’m just a going over home.

       —traditional American text

I Love my Love (1916)

by Gustav Holst (1874–1934)

English composer Gustav Holst set six folk songs for chorus, collected from the British countryside, including I Love my Love, a traditional song from Cornwall. The song tells of the madness suffered by a young maid
when her lover goes off to sea, and his parents put her in an asylum. “Bedlam” refers to Bethlehem Hospital in London, which supposedly cared for the mentally ill, though had a reputation for neglecting its patients. Bedlam also appears in Shakespeare’s King Lear, when a character disguises himself as a “Bedlam beggar,” a euphemism for a mad man; we will revisit Shakespeare later in the program. Some have said that Holst’s setting of “I love my love” in the third verse, sung on an off-kilter rhythm by the upper voices of the choir, paints a picture of the poor maid rocking back and forth as she loses her mind in her sorrow. The dark cloud of separation and madness continues to haunt us in the second work in this set.


Abroad as I was walking, one evening in the spring,
I heard a maid in Bedlam so sweetly for to sing;
Her chains she rattled with her hands, and thus replied she: “I love my love because I know my love loves me!”

O cruel were his parents who sent my love to sea,
And cruel was the ship that bore my love from me;
Yet I love his parents since they’re his although they’ve ruined me: I love my love because I know my love loves me!

“With straw I’ll weave a garland, I’ll weave it very fine; With roses, lilies, daisies, I’ll mix the eglantine;
And I’ll present it to my love when he returns from sea. For I love my love, because I know my love loves me.”

Just as she there sat weeping, her love he came on land,
Then, hearing she was in Bedlam, he ran straight out of hand; He flew into her snow-white arms, and thus replied he:
“I love my love, because I know my love loves me.”

She said: “My love, don’t frighten me; are you my love or no?” “O yes, my dearest Nancy, I am your love, also
I am returned to make amends for all your injury;
I love my love, because I know my love loves me.”

So now these two are married, and happy may they be
Like turtle doves together, in love and unity.
All pretty maids with patience wait that have got loves at sea; I love my love because I know my love loves me.

       —traditional Cornish folk song

I Hear the Siren’s Call (2012)

by Chen Yi (b. 1953)

The dark clouds follow us into the final song of this set, as temptation sets in for these unfortunate travelers. Chinese composer Chen Yi describes the storyline of the song as follows: “The sirens are represented by the [soprano] voices, echoed by the worksongs of sailors in the ships below. As the sailors draw near, their increasing anticipation becomes palpable and the siren song is nearly overshadowed, blending into the sailors’ singing. Their anticipatory changes build to a climactic shipwreck after which one solitary siren sings a satisfied melody.” Yi’s text is a selection of nonsense syllables, and she refers to the piece stylistically as “composed in a Chinese musical language.”

Lost Love (2018)

by Ian Richardson (b. 1989)

We now journey into the darkest part of our program, with two songs about love lost. The Piedmont Singers commissioned Ian Richardson, our own baritone, to write two pieces on this program, which he did with the ensemble’s specific vocalists in mind. The text he chose is earthy and unsettling. His uncanny ability to paint images with sound is evident in this work which paints a dark picture filled with dissonance and eerie textures. Listen for the clamour of maggots, the spinning of spiders, and the mumbling of grubs!

His eyes are quickened so with grief, He can watch a grass or leaf
Every instant grow; he can
Clearly through a flint wall see,

Or watch the startled spirit flee
From the throat of a dead man.
Across two counties he can hear
And catch your words before you speak. The woodlouse or the maggot’s weak Clamour rings in his sad ear,

And noise so slight it would surpass Credence--drinking sound of grass, Worm talk, clashing jaws of moth Chumbling holes in cloth;

The groan of ants who undertake
Gigantic loads for honour’s sake
(Their sinews creak, their breath comes thin); Whir of spiders when they spin,
And minute whispering, mumbling, sighs
Of idle grubs and flies.
This man is quickened so with grief,
He wanders god-like or like thief
Inside and out, below, above,
Without relief seeking lost love.

       —Robert von Ranke Graves


Let My Love be Heard (2014)

by Jake Runestad (b. 1986)

We move from the sounds of insects to the flutter of angel wings. Runestad, like Richardson in the last piece, effectively uses word painting to musically illustrate a cry to heaven as the voices ascend one after another in an upward cascade of sound that intensifies to a moment of catharsis. The message is universal for those facing loss of a loved one and looking for a way forward.

Angels, where you soar Up to God’s own light,

Take my own lost bird On your hearts tonight;

And as grief once more Mounts to heaven and sings,

Let my love be heard Whispering in your wings.

     —Alfred Noyes (1880–1958)

        from “A Prayer”

Love Thrice (2010) by Joseph Gregorio
i. Liquor and laquer

ii. An amethyst remembrance

iii. Kinsfolk

We end the first half with a cycle by Joseph Gregorio, a Massachusetts-based composer. Through the cycle, Gregorio sums up much of our program’s themes in three short pieces. He writes the following: “The first movement...depicts infatuation through flighty changes of meter and sudden shifts of mode. The built around a false cadence on the words “T will keep.” It is regretful, slowly building to an anguished climax and wistfully fading away. Finally, “Kinsfolk” both a lighthearted reflection on the paradoxical and complementary relationship between love and pain, and a pining for love. The first two stanzas of “Kinsfolk” pit the tenors and basses, who deliver the first stanza’s melody, against the sopranos and altos, who answer in the second stanza with the same melody in a key a tritone away from that of the first. The third stanza is a fugato on the same melody, culminating in a fervid fortissimo.”

i. Liquor and laquer

If I were only dafter
I might be making hymns
To the liquor of your laughter And the lacquer of your limbs.

       —Witter Bynner (1881–1968)

          “Opus 6” from Spectra (1916)

ii. An amethyst remembrance

I held a jewel in my fingers And went to sleep.

The day was warm, and winds were prosy.

I said: “‘T will keep.”

I woke and chid my honest fingers,— The gem was gone;

And now an amethyst remembrance Is all I own.

       —Emily Dickinson (1830– 1886)

          from “XXXIII” from Complete Poems         

          (1924), Part III

iii. Kinsfolk

Hey, rose, just born
Twin to a thorn;
Was’t so with you, O Love and Scorn?

Sweet eyes that smiled,
Now wet and wild:
O Eye and Tear- mother and child.

Well: Love and Pain
Be kinfolks twain;
Yet would, Oh would I could Love again.

       —Sidney Lanier (1842–1881)

          “A Song of Love” from Street Cries (1884)


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Second Half

Ubi caritas (1999) by Joan Szymko

We introduce the second half like the first, with a text about a sacred form of love, the embodiment of love in God. Composer Joan Szymko writes “Ubi a beautiful expression of the Divine One as ‘compassion.’ It is also an invitation to invoke divine presence through acts of compassion and love. In creating a new setting of the venerable text, I hoped to both honor my own religious heritage and arouse a universal longing for Spirit.”

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Where there is charity and love, God is there.

       —antiphon, unknown date

Ophelia (2014)

by Jocelyn Hagen (b. 1980)

Once again, we see where madness and love intermingle in a tragic scene. The text is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which Queen Gertrude brings news of the death of Ophelia to her brother Laertes. Composer Timothy Brown describes Hagen’s work: “Ms. Hagen’s approach to this text is simple—purposefully uncomplicated— allowing the text to be the focus. She keeps the vocal range quite small for most of the work, expanding only to word-paint certain passages such as those describing clothes filling with water... Also subtly injected into the work is the little song of Ophelia, who, sinking into madness, laments her lost love for Hamlet (Act IV, Scene 5). ...[These lines are] whispered as an eerie sort of accompaniment to the telling of her demented descent to the bottom of a pond.” The last two lines of the piece are part of Laertes’ response to Queen Gertrude’s sad telling. This song is the first of three in a set we will sing without break.

There is a willow grows aslant a brook
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.

There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,

There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;

When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook.

Her clothes spread wide,

And mermaid-like a while they bore her up;

Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,

Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,

And therefore I forbid my tears:

(Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your Valentine You promised me to wed.)

       —William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

           from Hamlet, Act 4, Scenes 5 and 7

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day (1992)

by Nils Lindberg (b. 1933)


Swedish composer/pianist Nils Lindberg is known for a wide array of styles spanning jazz, classical, and folk traditions. This work is entirely text driven, much like the last selection, and every rhythm matches the setting of the text perfectly. Like a languorous summer day, Lindberg uses smooth, lush, jazz-infused chords to bring this famous Shakespeare text to life- a respite in this emotional set.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

       —William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

          Sonnet 18

The Summer Ends (2018)

by Ian Richardson (b. 1989)

Continuing in the season of summer, our pendulum swings towards fall and harvest. Richardson, in his second commission for The Piedmont Singers this season, again chooses an earthy text, but one which explores the end of a relationship. Its nostalgic melancholy view of summer provides contrast to Lindberg’s Shakespeare setting in the previous work, and ends this set.

The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried, And fallen all the works of light.

You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark, From which they may return. At work, I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.

       —Wendell Berry (b. 1934)

           text used with permission

Hide and Seek (2005)

by Imogen Heap (b. 1977)

arr. by Jan Yngwe (b. 1953)

Imogen Heap’s original version of this song featured only her own voice, manipulated and layered using a vocoder with keyboard synth. The effect is robotic and yet powerfully emotional. She describes the loss of a loved one, and Yngwe’s arrangement brings out the resentful side of this feeling in his stark chords followed by silences, mimicking the original song’s synthesized sound.

Where are we?
What the hell is going on?
The dust has only just begun to form Crop circles in the carpet
Sinking, feeling
Spin me around again
And rub my eyes
This can’t be happening
When busy streets
Amass with people
Would stop to hold their heads heavy

Hide and seek
Trains and sewing machines
All those years
They were here first
Oily marks appear on walls
Where pleasure moments hung before The takeover
The sweeping insensitivity of this Still life
Hide and seek
Trains and sewing machines

Blood and tears
They were here first
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that you only meant well

Well of course you did
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that it’s all for the best
Of course it is
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, that it’s just what we need You decided this
Mm, what’d you say?
Mm, what did she say?

Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth

Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cutouts

Speak no feeling, no, I don’t believe you

You don’t care a bit, you don’t care a bit

Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth

Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cutouts

Speak no feeling, no, I don’t believe you

You don’t care a bit, you don’t care a bit

Oh, no, you don’t care a bit

Oh, no, you don’t care a bit

Uh-uh, you don’t care a bit

You don’t care a bit

You don’t care a bit

My Hiding Place (2017)

by Lydia Jane Pugh

While love can bring anger and resentment, as Heap explores above, it also brings safety, joy, gentleness and warmth, as embodied in Lydia Jane Pugh’s piece, which takes its text from Psalm 32 of the Bible.

You are my hiding place.
You will protect me, unfailing love,
and surround me with song.
Fr you instruct, and you teach the way to go,

With your loving eye you counsel me! You are my hiding place,
You will protect me, unfailing love, Surround me with songs;

My hiding place.

       —from Psalm 23, the Bible

Bridge Over Troubled Water (2013)

by Paul Simon (b. 1941)

arrangement by Vince Peterson of Aretha Franklin's adaptation

Love and relationships can be easily described as “troubled water.” After a rollercoaster ride of heavy emotions, let’s do some healing with the ever-popular Paul Simon classic! Arranger Vince Peterson creates a version for a cappella chorus based on Aretha Franklin’s 1971 version of the song. Rest in Peace, Queen Aretha.

Don’t trouble the waters (Leave it alone!)

Why don’t you let it be?
Still waters run deep (Yes they do!)

When you’re down and out,
When you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard,
I will be there to comfort you.
I’ll take you’re part when darkness comes and pain is all around,

like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.

Don’t trouble the waters (Leave it alone!)

Why don’t you let it be?
Still waters run deep (Yes they do!)

Sail on, silver girl.
Sail on by,
Your time has come to shine.
All of your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you ever need a friend,
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water,
I will ease your mind.
Don’t trouble the waters (Leave it alone!)

Why don’t you let it be?
Still waters run deep (Yes they do!)

I will lay me down.

Nyon Nyon (2015) by Jake Runestad (b. 1986)

Our last selection is purely for fun. It echoes some of Jan Yngwe’s use of nontraditional sound effects for chorus, and the body percussion of Moira Smiley in our first half. Runestad writes this: “Nyon Nyon is an exploration of the effects that one can produce with the human voice. I created original words to achieve varieties of colors and mixed and matched them within the ensemble to produce a diverse sonic landscape. Incorporating effects similar to a flanger, wah-wah pedal, drum and bass, and synthesizers turns the choir into a full-fledged vocal orchestra.”

If you'd like to support future work by The Piedmont Singers, please make an online donation!