Ashes and Eyes - (2002)
for mezzo soprano and organ
for Andrea Bönig, mezzo soprano, and Anton Gill, author and poet
round their eyes.
Staring frightened through the windows
of grey rooms.
Skinny kids, barefoot on concrete floors,
remembering grass underfoot
and the rough hands of mothers, fathers....
This text is under copyright and therefore not fully reproduced herein.
Copyright © 2002 by Anton Gill
Used by permission
All international rights reserved
[ 6 pages in organ score, circa 7' 35" ]
Mezzo soprano Andrea Bönig, in Berlin as a guest at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden at the time, suggested two newly written poems to me, to be set for her with organ accompaniment. With the poet's permission, I edited the two into one text for this setting.
Anton Gill's theme was Rumanian orphans in specific who were being housed in substandard conditions, and by obvious extension the orphaned children of all war and violent political upheaval. For this interpretive reason, I melded the two original texts into one with Anton's permission whose final message, after images of the forlorn, in one of redemption and hope. May it be so.
The long setting is complex, opening with a darkly chromatic introduction to characterize the plight of the innocent. The opening phrase for mezzo begins with a emotional imaging of "ashes round their eyes." This long tableaux of human misery is answered by an increasing light image and harmonic colors of repairing them, as Anton's last line declares, "with love."
A cycle of poems by Anton Gill is set for high voice and piano, entitled Four Seasons.