Circus for Elephants (2018)

for soprano and piano

Sarah Kendall is one of my closest friends, and has been since we were in fifth grade growing up together in Lakeland, Florida. Over the years we’ve done a myriad of musical projects together, most notably, writing songs together with our dear friend Amanda Callihan as the band Heart Piece. This cycle, written for the notable life event of Sarah’s graduation recital, acts as a kind of grown-up manifestation of these collaborations. Using Sarah’s evocative and enigmatic text, the music acts as a kind of refracted nostalgia, loose gestural strands connecting disparate thoughts together, while static and quasi-improvisatory passages juxtapose the malaise of the mid-twenties with their wild energy. The third movement, Aria, is taken from an unperformed art song I wrote Sarah years ago, and alters the course of the cycle — by the end of the Vocalise (which was written from a live improvisation by Sarah herself), the ominous opening of the cycle is reworked into something much more beautiful.