Orange Afternoon Lover

Score title

Orange Afternoon Lover


Lori Laitman

More about the composer



Program note

These songs were commissioned by soprano Eileen Strempel and pianist Sylvie Beaudette and I began work on them in February 2006. The cycle was premiered by the duo on August 17, 2006 at The Chatauqua Institution. This commission was part of a larger project of Eileen's and Sylvie's, in which they asked several women composers to set the poetry of Margaret Atwood. I was given free reign as to which poems I would set. The three poems I chose create a story line, which, for me, traces the progression of a love affair from its initial excitement through to the emptiness felt at the end of the affair.

The first song, "Against Still Life," uses a circular motif in the accompaniment – suggestive of the orange's shape, and this motif is used throughout. Harmonies, textures and rhythms all change to reflect the emotions of the words, while the melodic line closely follows the poem's natural rhythms. The second song, "I was Reading a Scientific Article," opens with a very quick accompaniment and corresponding vocal line, conveying the excitement of the lovers and the electric spark between them. These fast sections contrast with slower dreamier sections as the narrator contemplates other ideas about images of love. The mood of the last song, "I Am Sitting on the Edge," is set by the accompaniment's spareness. The piano figuration runs throughout the song, but colors change as I explore different harmonies and ranges of the piano. Word painting is used: for example, descending in the piano range for the image of a "deep sea creature;" a turning melisma for the voice on the word "turned;" the long vocal note mirroring "slowly;" the cessation of the piano motif corresponding with "a lack of pressure," etc. The song comes to a close as the piano fades out in an upward gesture while the voice repeats the opening line, "I am sitting on the edge."