12. The Lake Isle of Innisfree

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Individual MP3 files for learning each part: Soprano   Alto   Tenor   Bass

Text: poem by William Butler Yeats (1893):


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Musicians: Piano; T, A, & S solos; SATB chorus.

Length: 5 minutes.

Style: Romantic.

Program notes: As Yeats wrote in Four Years, he had seriously contemplated the idea of imitating Thoreau and living alone on an island. His sudden recall of this island while standing in a city street led to this poem, which was one of the first in which he loosened his meter and began to find his own voice. For many readers, it also works as a metaphor: for the hope of finding some "island" of peace and contentment in this life, before leaving it. I hope this choral setting, with several soloists rather than one, will heighten that universality. Each of the 3 stanzas has its own mood, which is why I change the time signature from 3/4 to 2/2 to 5/4, and transform the melody and harmony in each.

Performance suggestion: Sing without vibrato.

First performance: The Concert Singers, Los Angeles, 25 March 2012, under direction of composer Jenni Brandon, and with composer Dr. Stephanie Hutchinson at the piano.

[Innisfree]

Innisfree, Lough Gill, County Sligo

Kenneth Allen, 2008

WikiMedia Commons

[Glendalough Upper Lake]

Glendalough Upper Lake, County Wicklow

Sarah777, 2008

WikiMedia Commons

[W.B. Yeats in 1900]

portrait of young William Butler Yeats

by his father John Butler Yeats, 1900

WikiMedia Commons

Fresh Choral Music Online, by Peter Bird of Los Angeles