"My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer" is a musical setting of the poem by Mark Strand. It's performed here by baritone Aaron Engebreth, oboist Jane Harrison, and pianist Jun Toguchi (Jim Donahue, recording engineer).
Past performances include its New York premiere at Janice Mayer & Associates Tenth Anniversary celebration to benefit Classical Action, held at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club overlooking Central Park. It was performed by tenor Carl Halvorson, pianist Anthony Fogg of the Boston Symphony, and oboist Stephen Taylor of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
A new transcription for voice, oboe, harp & string quartet was premiered May 21 and 22, 2016 in Cambridge and Concord, Massachusetts by the Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble. A recording of that performance appears on the composer's SoundCloud page under the heading "transcribed for voice, oboe, harp & string quartet."
Aaron Engebreth, baritone
Jane Harrison, oboe
Jun Toguchi, piano
James T. Donahue, recording engineer
Bernadette Horgan, page turner
Recorded at Sonic Temple, Roslindale, MA
November 24, 2002
VIDEO OF THIS WORK
MY MOTHER ON AN EVENING IN LATE SUMMER
by Mark Strand (1980)
music by Tom Vignieri (1986)
Text used with kind permission from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
and shine with a light
that is veiled and dust-filled
and that floats upon the fields,
my mother, with her hair in a bun,
her face in shadow, and the smoke
from her cigarette coiling close
to the faint yellow sheen of her dress,
stands near the house
and watches the seepage of late light
down through the sedges,
the last gray islands of cloud
taken from view, and the wind
ruffling the moon's ash-colored coat
on the black bay.
Soon the house, with its shades drawn closed, will send
small carpets of lampglow
into the haze and the bay
will begin its loud heaving
and the pines, frayed finials
climbing the hill, will seem to graze
the dim cinders of heaven.
And my mother will stare into the starlanes,
the endless tunnels of nothing,
and as she gazes,
under the hour's spell,
she will think how we yield each night
to the soundless storms of decay
that tear at the folding flesh,
and she will not know
why she is here
or what she is prisoner of
if not the conditions of love that brought her to this.
My mother will go indoors
and the fields, the bare stones
will drift in peace, small creatures --
the mouse and the swift -- will sleep
at opposite ends of the house.
Only the cricket will be up,
repeating its one shrill note
to the rotten boards of the porch,
to the rusted screens, to the air, to the rimless dark,
to the sea that keeps to itself.
Why should my mother awake?
The earth is not yet a garden
about to be turned. The stars
are not yet bells that ring
at night for the lost.
It is much too late.
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