The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

...or a musician

A mercurial musing on music’s mysterious source

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Philip Dacey

This mercurial musing on music’s mysterious source draws its literary inspiration from a spirited poem by Philip Dacey, in which the sacred and secular merge into one powerful creative force. A rollicking 10-minute montage of musical styles ranging from Bach to barbershop, both lighthearted and ultimately transcendent.

Instrumentation: SATB, orchestra (2200, 0200, timp, harpsichord/celeste, strings)

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The Musician

“Bach is always making the sacred secular and the secular sacred.” Bill McGlaughlin, Minnesota Public Radio

In the great nave of the church,
we eat noodles and throw dice,
while at lunch in the café
a man sinks to his knees,
muttering prayers
and touching the floor with his head.

A minister delivers a sermon
that sounds suspiciously like a recipe
for coq au vin,
while someone else has hung
beautiful laundry out to dry
on the wide-open arms of a cross.

We’re confused
but happy to be so,
unclear as to whether
that was God who just walked by
or a musician
on her way to a concert,
the whole next world
squeezed into her black case.

Philip Dacey

© by Philip Dacey. Reprinted by permission of the poet.



Premiere: Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and American Master Chorale / David Lewis Crosby (Madison, WI)