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my son my son. Text by Robert Lax SATB, 5′. Commissioned by Khorikos. Premiered 3 Nov 2018, Shrine Church of Saint Anthony of Padua, 154 Sullivan Street, New York City.

Except for the last movement, “The Arc,” I stayed away from Robert Lax’s most recognizable, minimalist style in The Arc in the Sky. I don’t know if this was intentional, but other poems spoke—and assembled themselves together—more quickly to me. But in discussing the Khorikos commission of the current work with their principal conductor Alec Galambos, I thought I’d like another go at Lax, and Alec loved his poetry. The theme for the concert was “Communication.” This poem was one of a few Alec drew my attention to. After living with it for a while, I decided it was perfect.

Recordings of Robert Lax reading his own poetry reveal him taking great care with double line breaks. I wanted to carry that over to this setting, to see if I could keep the momentum going while observing the spaces. So the rests are carefully worked out to carve out phrases within the spareness.

my son
my son

all my
life

all my
life

I’ve been
wanting
to tell
you

I’ve been
wanting
to tell
you

this

this

this

this

this

life
life

life
life
life

life
life

life
life
life

life
life
life

life
life
life

life
life

life
life
life

death
death
death

death
death
death

death
death

death
death

death
death
death

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