Devil's Den (2016)

for two sopranos, one bass, and piano

Program Note

 Devil's Den is a nature reserve park located in Redding/Weston, CT.  I often walk the trails there to give myself time to think. It was here I made enormous personal growths as an emotionally cognizant human being. This song cycle is based on a particularly memorable walk that lasted approximately six hours. Each song is tied to a specific location in the park and the emotional self-reflections I experienced there. The surface story depicted in the song cycle follows three characters; Érva (the river), Térn (nature), and Tünd (the devil). In the beginning, Érva is walking along the trails laid out to her by a map she has been given. Though it is clear where she should go, she is lured by the invitation of the unknown. Curiosity compels her to follow a river as it starts flowing up towards a mountain peak. As she reaches the top, dark clouds cover the sun, a cold wind cuts across her face, and snow begins to fall. Érva becomes increasingly angry at the sun for abandoning her. Tünd commands Érva to forsake hope and accept the paralyzing fear swelling inside her. Érva, now frozen by the dark cold, is ready to give up hope, but Térn sends a ray light to pierce the darkened sky, releasing her. Érva seizes the opportunity to run, but is called by both Tünd and Térn to stop. Érva does not listen and continues to flee, only stopping out of exhaustion by a pond in a forest grove. Térn attempts to sooth Érva (who at this point is being slightly overdramatic). After a quick back and forth, Érva puts aside the “melodrama” language and explains in sincere terms why she is so afraid. Both Térn’s and Tünd’s voices are there to comfort her. By the end of the piece, Érva comes to understand who Térn and Tünd really are, and how important their roles are for her own self-acceptance. The language in the songs is vague as the deeper/personal story is depicted half in text and half in motivic development. There was a story before this walk, and there will be a story after, but in the moment, it felt as if nothing else mattered except the next step that needed to be taken.  

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