Where the Heart is Pure
Berkely Symphony Orchestra; Kent Nagano and Laurent Pillot, conductors; Kees Hulsmann, violin; Stephanie Friedman, mezzo-soprano; Robin Sutherland, piano; Nadya Tichman, violin; Jack Van Geem, percussion
Lewis writes in an attractive tonal idiom that appeals to both heart and mind. The music is euphonious and often disarmingly pretty, but with a core of strength that shows itself in surprising harmonic choices and vigorous instrumental textures.
--San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle
Where The Heart Is Pure was composed as a tribute to the wonderful Northwest poet Robert Sund, whom I've had the pleasure of knowing for over twenty-five years now. When I first met Robert, he was living in a converted net shed overlooking the Skagit River in the Northwest part of Washington State. For several years I made the journey out to visit him from my home in Seattle before moving to San Francisco. When I went to visit, we would typically stay up into the early hours of the morning while I improvised on the guitar and he read his poetry. Since I'd always wanted to set Robert's poetry to music, I decided to create a song cycle depicting a journey out to see him on the river. With that in mind, the first section of the composition starts with me leaving the urban environment I've always had to live in in order to survive as a composer. To relate to that idea, the music is jagged, yet with a jazz-like swing, with the soloist singing my own version of scat. The second section is the traveling music which depicts the actual journey out to see him. This section then leads to a cello solo which is the actual arrival music, bringing the listener to the setting of the first poem. All three poems are then set so the listener can easily understand them.
--Peter Scott Lewis
There Is No Exile Where The Heart Is Pure
(for Pablo Casals)
Behind the barn, the first week of March, on a bright
morning after long rain,
the windy cedar tree
turns round and round in the sunlight.
A winter horse
rubs himself on the corner of the barn.
Little pieces of cedar glide down where the ants are
calling home their old senators who
have failed utterly.
Coming home, carrying suitcases full of noise,
they pass through small American towns.
On the barn wall,
rusted nails bleed; and in fences, in hinges, in boards.
The horse (I think of Casals in exile!) plays
a suite unaccompanied in the silver cedar boards.
Inside the barn,
the stranded haywagon shudders.
Between its floorboards
trickle to the earth.
A dry dusty odor mingles with festering dampness,
and a hand --
blue ridges and rivers coming and going through it --
rests on the white sheet of the windows.
comes to swing open wide the huge
doors like drifiting continents,
and a wedge of healing sunlight
slips into the barn before her.
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