An Incalculable Loss

(poems by Richard Leach and Norman Fischer)

Year: 2020

Instrumentation: mezzo soprano & cello

Duration: 12 minutes

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Program Notes

Stunned by the NY Times front page listing, as of the date of the issue, of the nearly 100,000 Americans killed by the coronavirus, I wanted to do something. Reaching out to the poet Richard Leach, with whom I had collaborated previously, he promptly sent me Missing Voices, which I set to music the following day. Somehow, a duet between voice and cello seemed right for his moving words. These are not statistics but individual humans with all of their connected friends and family – and this must be acknowledged, even as we struggle to fathom the depth of such loss.

Then another poet I had reached out to put me in touch with Norman Fischer, who had posted a series of coronavirus poems on his website. Reaching out to him, I was thrilled when he gave permission for me to use his poems for this cycle of songs.

As I write this, the world in slow steps is attempting to return to normal – but nothing has really changed. The virus remains as transmissible and deadly as before governments attempted to halt its spread by implementing social distancing measures. For those at risk, me included, the time to safely venture out and resume a normal life remains out of reach.

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