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“Excuse | Emily and | her Atoms | The North | Star is | of small | fabric but it | implies | much | presides | yet.”

     - envelope manuscript, set first in this cycle

‘Gorgeous Nothings’ (2019), a song cycle for soprano, clarinet, viola, cello, and piano, is a work setting and inspired by Emily Dickinson’s envelope manuscripts.

The envelope texts set in this cycle are fragments, not in the sense that they are torn from an absent whole, but as miniatures: brief, enigmatic movements creating the ‘small fabric’ that amounts to the cycle. Points of musical contact between individual songs create meaning through recollection, and allow the cycle to move between states of unity and separation just as the voice and ensemble do. As such, memory plays an important role, as traditional linear relationships take a backseat. The final song, ‘Look back on Time’, is then a culmination of the entire cycle — rotating back through every song in reverse order using scraps of ‘small fabric’ from each one.

This recording is taken from the piece's premiere in 2020 at Murray Edwards College Cambridge as part of the Purcell 360 concert series. The soprano was Susannah Hill.

© 2021 Lara Weaver

Images below and in header include score extracts (© Lara Weaver) and scans of envelope manuscripts sourced from Weiner, M and Bervin, J, Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings (Christine Burgin / New Directions: 2013)


Any enquiries for scores or commissions can be addressed by contacting Lara directly via the contact form below.


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