2008, for Sopranos & Altos (SSAA), Marimba, String Quartet
Length: 7 minutes
Revision: 1
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Cost per Copy: $30.00

NOTE that only one licensed copy is needed per ensemble.

Threnody, a setting of a poem by Martha Kirby Capo, was premiered on June 13, 2008 at the New Music Arizona concert of the Chaparral MusicFest 2008.

I was working with  Martha on a set of lullabies, and, while on the subject of children, Martha produced this poem about a mother and the death of her infant.  A threnody is a song or poem of lament, and James Michael, the subject of this poem, was the first child to a young couple belonging to the church in which Martha ministered.  As Martha wrote in introducing the poem to me, “That's one thing about working in a church – you certainly have a lot of instances where you're called to walk with people through some very painful places.”  The poem’s emotional impact on me was so great that I felt compelled to set it to music.

The original setting is for string orchestra, marimba, and women’s choir.  A second setting was made for string quartet, marimba, and women's choir.

The text is as follows:

by Martha Kirby Capo
Copyright 2007

On a cold, rainy November
night James Michael died
as I cradled him in
my new mother's arms
we were so young and
now in the silent space of
a heartbeat
I am so old
and my new mother's
arms are empty.

The chill panes are misted
with my breath
indifferent raindrops
splatter turgid trickling
half-moon rivers
I do not see
their source I

cannot know their end.

James Michael has rested
on his seventh day of creation.


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