Hearkening back to days of bards and kings, SEA TANGLE: SONGS FROM THE NORTH pairs new music with ancient tales, using texts from Scotland, Iceland, Alaska, and New England.
Click through slider below to learn more about the four Northern cultures represented in this project.
We begin the Sea Tangle program in Iceland, with a newly-commissioned work by Melissa Dunphy: a 10- to 15-minute work for mezzo-soprano, violin, and harp. This piece will use text of an Eddic poem detailing the story of Hervor, a Viking warrior princess who demanded and won her birthright from her father, despite his objections that, as a woman, she was unworthy.
Fun fact: the Icelandic Edda were ancient epic poems that were the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the character of Éowyn in that series was loosely based on Hervor.
The next stop is Alaska with Kamala Sankaram’s Kivalina (2014), a meditation for mezzo-soprano and violin on the eponymous barrier island which is currently being subsumed by the ocean as a result of climate change. The Inuit goddess Sedna is invoked as a metaphorical surrogate for the island itself in this abstract tale of loss and longing.
From New England, 19th century poet Emily Dickinson’s voice rises up through a song cycle by Emily Lau. The songs were originally written for the Grammy award-winning choir Conspirare, and Lau is excited to reimagine them for voice, harp, and violin.
The program ends with a cycle of Hebridean folk songs for voice and harp, entitled Sea Tangle, collected and arranged by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser. It was published in 1913, yet there still exists no commercial recording of this music. To stay consistent with the soundscape of the overall recording project, I am working closely with harpist Christa Patton to rearrange Kennedy-Fraser's piano/vocal score for voice and harp.
Sea Tangle: Songs from the North is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Sea Tangle: Songs from the North must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
I have started writing a blog exploring the stories and texts involved in this project. Follow along and learn more about the myths, philosophy, and thought processes that go into making an album like this.