The Lunatic (2019)

For mezzo soprano, piano

Text by Charles Simic. Permission granted in 2019


Premiered by Hannah Penn, Mezzo-Soprano and Nathalie Fortin, Piano

Produced by Eugene Opera for ”Songs of Quarantine” project.


four minutes


The same snowflake
Kept falling out of the gray sky All afternoon,
Falling and falling
And picking itself up
Off the ground,
To fall again,
But now more surreptitiously, More carefully
As night strolled over
To see what’s up.

Program Note

When I read Charles Simic’s poem, The Lunatic for the first time, I was impressed by the minimalist but evocative feel of the work. The poem describes the nature of a snowflake. As I read it more, I felt an unusual fixation on the action of the snowflake. The piece starts off by depicting the erratic nature of the snowflake in the right hand of the piano. It then transitions into descending plaintive, melancholy music. The singer repeats ‘’The same snowflake kept falling out of the great sky’’ three times but each time more bothered and adding words from the poem. I tried to convey the obsessive nature that the POV expresses along with the piano material depicting the falling and ‘’picking itself off the ground’’ that the snowflake does.