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My Heart is like a Singing Bird

Six-part ATB consort, 5'45" (2016)

for Owain Park and The Gesualdo Six

There are many beautiful and lush images in this classic Romantic-era poem, which presents itself on the surface as a passionate tribute to some love or lover. However, what struck me about it most was its lack of humanization or any sort of acknowledgement or detail about who or what this ‘love’ is: how in love can Rossetti be if she can’t or won’t name what she is speaking about? This emotional disconnect leaves me wondering if she is using her romanticism as a cover for not being as certain about something as perhaps she’d like to be – a much more poignant and inspiring basis for a creative work than a simple love song, if you ask me. I’ve set the poem with lilting melodies that recall an English romantic or pastoral tradition, but with conflicting rhythmic subdivisions (such as triplets versus dotted quavers and semiquavers) that naturally never sound quite certain of their placement. In the long tradition of madrigalisms, the accompanimental figures which recur throughout the work are shaped like hearts on the page.