Chamber Music

for voice and piano
Commissioned by the Society for New Music
10 minutes


  1. No. 2
  2. No. 3

Program Note

Text by James Joyce

In my search for texts to set, I was particularly struck by the vivid imagery and evocative nature of this early set of 36 short pieces by James Joyce entitled Chamber Music. I found that many of these pieces provoked a strong sense of gesture or color to me, in a manner somewhat familiar to numerous settings by Franz Schubert. It became immediately obvious with those thoughts in mind that this work would over time evolve into a larger setting of each of the poems by Joyce.

What was striking about some of the texts - particularly the second poem - was the incredibly nuanced usage of color painting, in both how Joyce uses color from which to supplant certain emotional or visual stimuli (similar to how synesthetes perceive the world), and how he even uses general color theory to inform the architectural layout of that particular text itself.