Instrumentation baritone and piano

Vocal Range A2 to F#4

Timing 18′ in six movements

Composed 1991

Poems by C.P. Cavafy, trans. Rae Dalven

World Premiere February 21, 1992, Kulas Hall, The Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, Ohio. Mark Walters, baritone; Michael Borowitz, piano

Recorded by Dion Mazerolle, baritone, and Steven Philcox, piano, on Found Frozen: Songs of Jeffrey Ryan

Programme Notes

The Next Table
At the Theatre
Picture of a 23-year-old youth…
Before Time Changes Them

So many of the texts that composers set to art song are about love and relationships. But while men and women sing about each other, and women sing about women (often through texts in a “male voice”), Of Passion’s Tide is my contribution to the still-scant repertoire of songs in which men sing about men.

Of Passion’s Tide is a setting of six poems written in the 1910s and ’20s by C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933), used here in Rae Dalven’s English translation from the original Greek. Cavafy wrote frankly, honestly, and beautifully about male relationships from his perspective and experience as a gay man in the early 20th century. These particular poems, selected from Cavafy’s collected works, fall nicely into an umbrella storyline of an older man reflecting on a relationship from his youth. The first song, Desires, expresses the importance of acting on one’s feelings while one has the chance. In the second song, The Next Table, he sees a young man at a café who reminds him of his past love. The next three songs chronicle that relationship from its rapturous beginning to its unavoidable ending. Finally, Return expresses his yearning to rediscover those sensations of his youth.


Dion Mazerolle (baritone) and Steven Philcox (piano). From the Canadian Art Song Project album Found Frozen.

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