Song and Verse: Crumb, Duke, Bolcom, Gordon, Price, Cage, Larsen, & Hundley

Inaugurated in the fall of 2020, the Song and Verse recital series provides a platform for undergraduate singers at NEC to experience the unique and invigorating process of song preparation and performance—creating interpretations, building performance skills, and forging intellectual and musical connections with a wide literature.

Working closely with Vocal Arts faculty members, students will engage with rich traditions of song composition from around the globe.

Committed to diversity, our programs will feature both established and emerging composers and poets from across many cultures and traditions. This series creates new opportunities for students to participate with the singular type of storytelling unique to song.


  • Samantha Fox, mezzo-soprano
  • Kaitlin Burton, soprano
  • Colleen Ernandes, mezzo-soprano
  • Sophia Donelan, soprano
  • David Helder, tenor
  • Cassandra Pinataro, soprano
  • Ruoxi Peng, soprano
  • Chelsea Whitaker, piano and coach
  1. George Crumb | Three Early Songs

    Let it be forgotten
    Wind Elegy (W.E.W.)



    How beautiful is night!

    A dewy freshness fills the silent air;
    No mist obscures, nor cloud, nor speck, nor stain
    Breaks the serene of heaven:
    In full-orbed glory yonder Moon divine
    Rolls through the dark-blue depths.
    Beneath her steady ray
    The desert-circle spreads,
    Like the round ocean, girdled with the sky.
    How beautiful is night!

    Robert Southey, from Thalaba the Destroyer

    Let it be forgotten

    Let it be forgotten as a flower is forgotten,
    Forgotten as a fire that once was burning gold.
    Let it be forgotten forever and ever.
    Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

    If anyone asks, say it was forgotten,
    Long and long ago.
    As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed foot-fall
    In a long forgotten snow.

    Sara Teasdale, from Flame and Shadow

    Wind Elegy (W.E.W.)

    Only the wind knows he is gone,
    Only the wind grieves,
    The sun shines, the fields are sown,
    Sparrows mate in the eaves;

    But I heard the wind in the pines he planted
    And the hemlocks overhead,
    "His acres wake, for the year turns,
    But he is asleep," it said.

    Sara Teasdale

    • Samantha Fox, mezzo-soprano
  2. John Duke | Songs

    I carry your heart
    Morning in Paris
    Shelling Peas


    i carry your heart

    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                          i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you
    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    e. e. cummings

    Morning in Paris

    Early in the morning
    Of a lovely summer day,
    As they lowered the bright awning
    At the outdoor café,
    I was breakfasting on croissants
    And café au lait
    Under greenery like scenery,
    Rue François Premier.

    They were hosing the hot pavement
    With a dash of flashing spray
    And a smell of summer showers

    When the dust is drenched away,
    Under greenery like scenery,
    Rue François Premier.
    I was twenty and a lover
    And in Paradise to stay
    Very early in the morning
    Of a lovely summer day.

    Robert Hillyer

    Shelling Peas

    Hear the shells crack!
    See the people fall!
    Hear them thud and thump and bump and crash!
    See the people fall!
    Hear them:—
    What people?
    The people in the peapods.
    Small people, tall people,
    Soft people, hard people,
    Old people, young people.
    But all of them green people.
    We crush their homes,
    We drown them with water,
    We stifle them with seasonings
    And burn them with fire,
    And eat them with teeth,
    And absorb their heat with blood.
    What people?
    The poor little green people,
    Green people, green people.

    Jessica Jackson

    • Kaitlin Burton, soprano
  3. William Bolcom | Minicabs

    Inspired in part by Carrie Jacobs Bond’s Half-Minute Songs, these “minicabs” — mini-cabaret songs — are fashioned from sometimes one-line sketches in Arnold Weinstein’s papers, at other times certain phrases that had been successfully kited from show to opera to play without ever previously finding homes.          
    – William Bolcom

    I Feel Good
    People Change
    Food Song #1
    Food Song #2
    I Will Never Forgive You
    Not Even a Haiku
    Maxim #1
    Maxim #2
    Finale: Mystery of the Song?


    I Feel Good

    I feel good about something
    and I’m going to find out what it is!

    People Change

    People change
    into what they are.


    Those who want to all the time
    do it less than those who don’t.

    Food Song #1

    Are you anti-pasto
    or pro-volone?


    Food Song #2

    French food — flambé.
    Mexican food — olé.
    Jewish food — oy vay.

    I Will Never Forgive You

    I will never forgive you
    for my behavior.


    You lie through your teeth!
    but one little tooth says,
    “How can you lie?
    You don’t know the truth.”

    Not Even a Haiku

    I rub your name.
    My life appears.

    Maxim #1

    Half started, half begun.

    Maxim #2

    You can whack a baby’s behind
    with a dead turkey but
    don’t spill tomato aspic
    on the Law!


    Anyone who cares enough about you
    to steal your mail can’t be all bad.


    Finale: Mystery of the Song?

    Mystery of the song?
    It means what it means
    and you mean what you mean
    and how the two do together
    spells the song.

    Arnold Weinstein

    • Colleen Ernandes, mezzo-soprano
  4. Ricky Ian Gordon | Songs

    The Spring and the Fall
    The Lake Isle of Innisfree



    Just a rainy day or two

    In a windy tower,
    That was all I had of you-
    Saving half an hour.

    Marred by greeting passing groups
    In a cinder walk,
    Near some naked blackberry hoops
    Dim with purple chalk.

    I remember three or four
    Things you said in spite,
    And an ugly coat you wore,
    Plaided black and white.

    Just a rainy day or two
    And a bitter word.
    Why do I remember you
    As a singing bird?

    Edna St. Vincent Millay


    The Spring and the Fall

    In the spring of the year, in the spring of the year,

    I walked the road beside my dear.
    The trees were black where the bark was wet.
    I see them yet, in the spring of the year.
    He broke me a bough of the blossoming peach
    That was out of the way and hard to reach.

    In the fall of the year, in the fall of the year,
    I walked the road beside my dear.
    The rooks went up with a raucous trill.
    I hear them still, in the fall of the year.
    He laughed at all I dared to praise.
    And broke my heart, in little ways.

    Year be springing or year be falling,
    The bark will drip and the birds be calling.
    There’s much that’s fine to see and hear
    In the spring of a year, in the fall of a year.
    ‘Tis not love’s going hurts my days,
    But that it went in little ways.

    Edna St. Vincent Millay


    The Lake Isle of Innisfree

    I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
    Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
    And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

    And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
    Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
    There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
    And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

    I will arise and go now, for always night and day
    I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
    While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
    I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

    William Butler Yeats

    • Sophia Donelan, soprano
  5. Florence B. Price | Songs

    Out of the South Blew a Wind
    An April Day


    Out of the South Blew a Wind

    Out of the South blew a soft sweet wind,

    And on its breath was a song
    Of fields and flow’rs and leafy bow’rs,
    And bees that hum all day long.

    Out from the South blew a soft low wind;
    On its wings was the joy of a dream
    And it hovered so near I was sure I could hear
    The call of the woodland and stream.

    Out of the South blew a soft sweet wind.
    And on its breath was a song.

    Fannie Carter Woods

    An April Day

    On such a day as this I think,
    On such a day as this
    When earth and sky and nature’s world are clad in April’s bliss;
    And balmy zephyrs gently waft
    Up on your cheek a kiss,

    Sufficient is it just to live.
    On such a day as this.

    Joseph F. Cotter

    • David Helder, tenor
  6. John Cage | Experiences No. 2 (for unaccompanied voice)

    The text is from III, one of Sonnets–Unrealities of Tulips and Chimneys (1923) by e. e. cummings.  The last two lines have been omitted.  Other lines and a word have been repeated or used in an order other than that of the original.  The humming passages (not part of the poem) are interpolations.               
    John Cage


    it is at moments after i have dreamed
    of the rare entertainment of your eyes,

    when (being fool to fancy) i have deemed

    with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
    at moments when the glassy darkness holds

    the genuine apparition of your smile
    (it was through tears always) and silence moulds
    such strangeness as was mine a little while;

    moments when my once more illustrious arms
    are filled with fascination, when my breast
    wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:

    one pierced moment whiter than the rest

    —turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
    i watch the roses of the day grow deep.

    e. e. cummings

    • Cassandra Pinataro, soprano
  7. Libby Larsen | Song (for solo soprano)



    but we’ve the may

    (for you are in love
    and i am) to sing,
    my darling: while
    old worlds and young
    (big little and all
    worlds) merely have
    the must to say

    and the when to do
    is exactly theirs
    (dull worlds or keen;
    big little and all)
    But lose or win
    (come heaven, come hell)
    precisely ours
    is the now to grow
    it’s love by whom
    (my beautiful friend)

    the gift to live
    is without until:
    but pitiful they’ve
    (big little and all)
    no power beyond
    the trick to seem

    their joys turn woes
    and right goes wrong
    (dim worlds or bright;

    big little and all)
    whereas (my sweet)
    our summer in fall
    and in winter our spring
    is the yes of yes

    love was and shall
    be this only truth
    (a dream of a deed,
    born not to die)
    but worlds are made
    of hello and goodbye:
    glad sorry or both
    (big little and all)

    e. e. cummings

    • Cassandra Pinataro, soprano
  8. Richard Hundley | Two Settings of Emily Dickinson

    Heart, We Will Forget Him
    Letter from Emily


    Heart, We Will Forget Him

    Heart, we will forget him!

    You and I, tonight!
    You may forget the warmth he gave,
    I will forget the light.

    When you have done, pray tell me,
    That I my thoughts may dim;
    Haste! lest while you’re lagging,
    I may remember him!

    Letter from Emily

    Dear Friend, — We want you to wake — Easter has come and gone.
            Morning without you is a dwindled dawn.
            Quickened toward all celestial things by crows I heard this morning,
            accept a loving caw from a

                     Nameless friend

    Emily Dickinson

    • Ruoxi Peng, soprano
  9. Richard Hundley | Will There Really be a Morning?


    Will There Really be a Morning?

    Will there really be a “Morning”?

    Is there such a thing as “Day”?
    Could I see it from the mountains
    If I were as tall as they?

    Has it feet like Water lilies?
    Has it feathers like a Bird?
    Is it brought from famous countries
    Of which I have never heard?

    Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!
    Oh some Wise Men from the skies!
    Please to tell a little Pilgrim
    Where the place called “Morning” lies!

    Emily Dickinson

    • Ruoxi Peng, soprano