Sep 13, 2011

Three Whitman Songs, the music videos

Videos of a new song cycle, Three Whitman Songs by Andrew Martin are now viewable on YouTube.
Several years ago, my father commissioned Andrew to create a song as a wedding gift for his friend Dan Barber (executive chef of the Blue Hill Farm restaurants, including one at the Stone Barns Center) and Dan's fiancée, Aria. The result was the love duet "We Two, How Long Were We Fool'd!" written for me to sing with our friend soprano Hila Plitmann.
Earlier this summer, Hila and I met at the Roy O. Disney Hall at CalArts to sing through the cycle with pianist Tali Tadmor. Chris Martin of Chrismatic Films and Danny Lemos of Danny Lemos Creative were on hand to record the proceedings. Chris recently posted his videos on YouTube (see clips below). The text of the poems and links to downloadable audio recordings appear below the videos.

Three Whitman Songs
Words by Walt Whitman
Music by Andrew Martin
Damon Kirsche, baritone
Hila Plitmann, soprano
Tali Tadmor, piano

I. I Knew a Man (from Three Whitman Songs)

II. I Think I Could Turn and Live with Animals (from Three Whitman Songs)

III. We Two, How Long Were We Fool'd! (from Three Whitman Songs)
Additional, finer quality audio recordings by Danny Lemos Creative are available for free download at these links:

I. I Knew a Man (from "I Sing the Body Electric")
(ded. to Frederick Kirschenmann)

I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons,
And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.
This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person,
The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness and breadth of his manners,
These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome.
They and his daughters loved him, all who say him loved him,
They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal love.
He drank water only.
When he went with his five sons and many grandsons to hunt or fish, you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of the gang,
You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.

II. I Think I Could Turn and Live with Animals (from "Song of Myself")
(ded. to Annie, Carolyn and Janet)

I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.

III. We Two, How Long Were We Fool'd!
(ded. to Dan and Aria)

We two, how long we were fool’d,
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,
We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings and evenings,
We are also the coarse smut of beasts,
We browse,
We are two among the wild herds spontaneous as any,
We prowl fang’d and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic and stellar,
We are seas mingling,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence of the globe,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.