C0 note (16,35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

D0 note (18.35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

C0 note (16,35 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

F0 note (21.83 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

G0 note (24.50 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

A0 note (27.50 Hz) — vibrating on liquid surface

Biggs, Hayes: The Caged Skylark 



Basic information



  • Program notes: 

    My setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s The Caged Skylark was begun in the spring of 2011 and completed in August of the same year. The piece is dedicated to Gregg Smith, in honor of his eightieth birthday and with deepest thanks for his unflagging commitment to and support of American composers over the past several decades.
    Hopkins (1844-1889), besides being possessed of a vision that made much of twentieth-century English poetry possible, was a convert to Roman Catholicism and a Jesuit priest. The Caged Skylark begins darkly, its first two stanzas juxtaposing the image of the brave, “dare-gale” skylark chafing against the confines of his “dull cage,” with the workaday drudgery of humans, imprisoned in their own earthly bodies. My setting begins with a duet for the sopranos and altos that seems to suggest the aimlessness of the bird in his futile struggle against his incarceration, culminating in chordal “bursts of fear or rage” in the full choir, with the altos hanging on stubbornly after the other voices have abruptly been cut off.
    Hopkins changes the affect completely for the last two stanzas. The skylark, even when flying free and high, still needs a resting place, a “wild nest” to which he can rapidly descend at will from the heights. Likewise, humans freed—in Hopkins’s view—by the fact of Christ’s resurrection still require their own dwellings, but their bodies are now transformed into something much lighter, no more an encumbrance than would be a rainbow alighting upon a meadow. From a musical standpoint, my interpretation of the second half of the poem takes on a decidedly more tonal cast, but it is a tonality hard won and not without ambivalence.

    ~Hayes Biggs




Total number of musicians: