The Jesse Stuart Songs Commission Project
Five-song cycle composed by Daniel Gilliam will be premiered March 10th, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of Christ Episcopal Church in Corning, N.Y. The recital is free and open to the public.
With generous help from family and friends I have been able to commission this set of songs in honor of my father, Larry Wilson. The texts used are sonnets from Stuart's collection titled, "Man with a bull-tongue plow." Their themes explore our connections to nature, place, and seasons.
1. Who said that gold was all there was in life
2. Now do not leave me, love, for rugged lands
3. Spring in Kentucky hills will soon awaken
4. The call to earth is pounding on my brain
5. Oh, don't you see the willow leaves this Spring
Jesse Stuart's poetry sprung from his upbringing in rural Greenup County, Ky., where my father grew up. From Wikipedia: "One day while he was plowing in the field, he stopped and wrote the first line of a sonnet: "I am a farmer singing at the plow." the first line of the seven hundred and three sonnets that he would collect in Man with a Bull-Tongue Plow (1934). The book was described by the Irish poet George William Russell (who wrote poetry under the name of AE) as the greatest work of poetry to come out of America since Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass. Stuart was made poet laureate of the state of Kentucky in 1954, and in 1961 he received the award from American Academy of Poets."
I met Daniel Gilliam in 2007 in Louisville, Ky. when he hosted a "Lunch and Listen" radio program on the local NPR station, WUOL. From www.danielgilliam.com: "Daniel Gilliam is a composer of art songs, choral, orchestra, and chamber music. Current commissions include a song cycle for soprano and wind ensemble commissioned by the University of Minnesota. Gilliam was composer-in-residence of Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Kentucky, from 2008-2010, and has been a composer fellow at The Seasons Music Festival (2010 & 2011). He has been commissioned and performed by Center City Opera Theater, Arsenal Trio, The Phoenix Concerts, Seasons Music Festival, Louisville Youth Choir, Turin Philharmonic Orchestra and Central Presbyterian Church (Louisville). Gilliam is the Program Director of WUOL, in Louisville; in addition, he spent most of his childhood in Chile."