Great Blue (print)


Soprano, clarinet and piano–9′

A mother and daughter are united in a haunting work for soprano, clarinet and piano

Listen to a performance by Karen Clift, soprano; Burt Hara, clarinet; Thelma Hunter, piano:

Preview the score:


Great Blue

Soprano, clarinet and piano
Text: Carolyn Kizer
Commissioned by The Commission Project
Premiere–Karen Clift, Burt Hara, Thelma Hunter, Saint Paul, MN 5/03
2 scores and part for clarinet in A included.


As I wandered the beach
I saw the heron standing
Sunk in the tattered wings
He wore as a hunchback’s coat.
Shadow without a shadow,
Hung on invisible wires
From the top of a canvas day,
What scissors cut him out?
. . . .

Program Note

Great Blue (the birder’s name for the great blue heron) was commissioned by The Commission Project of Rochester, New York for Karen Clift, Burt Hara and John Churchwell. Karen and Burt so enjoyed performing Schubert’s “Shepherd on the Rock” in 1996 that they asked me to write a new work for that combination. I looked for a poem with a strong third dimension: much as the clarinet sounds the echo-and enlarges the sense of space-in Schubert’s song. I found in Carolyn Kizer’s spectral heron a presence which symbolizes both a captured memory and a premonition. Like Ms. Kizer’s poem, my work is dedicated to my mother, Mimi Thomas, who died in 2011.





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