Transcendence toward Paradiseis a thirteen-minute, five-movement piece for mezzo-soprano, flute, harp, and viola. The selected text was excerpted from an Italian sonnet written by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), which was set in its original language. William Wordsworth provided a beautiful poetic translation, which I chose to guide my text setting.
Dolce è ben quella in un pudico core, che per cangiar di scorza o d’ora estrema non manca, e qui caparra il paradiso.
In chaste hearts uninfluenced by the power of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower, that breathes on earth the air of paradise.
The text appears in its entirety only in the last movement, with earlier movements exploring a gradual reconstruction of the text from its component parts. To accomplish this, the text was deconstructed into various syllables represented in the score with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The first movement’s text contains only the shortest durations of syllables, denoting the highest level of text abstraction. As each subsequent movement progresses, the abstract syllables gradually merge together and expand to form words and phrases of the text.
The thematic material for Transcendence toward Paradiseoriginates from the fifth movement of the piece. Salient characteristics from the last movement were shaped into variations based upon these features, which also reflect the evolving characteristics of the text setting. This was accomplished through variation techniques including motivic and rhythmic deconstruction, augmentation, diminution, and registral displacement, among others.