A Clear Midnight


A Clear Midnight is a song cycle by Jonathan Clarke Schwabe setting four poems of Walt Whitman.


The audio selection in the player to the right features tenor Jeffrey Brich and the University of Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra with Rebecca Burkhardt conducting. It was recorded in 2005 at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, UNI. This track is used with the permission of the composer. To listen, please click on the track name itself.

This cycle was composed in 2005 for a concert observing the sesquicentennial anniversary of the first printing of Leaves of Grass. My colleague on the UNI voice faculty, tenor Jeff Brich had an integral role in the production of these songs; he premiered the chamber version (scored for piano, clarinet, and cello) in 2005. I orchestrated them the following year, and Jeff premiered that version as well with the University of Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra and Rebecca Burkhardt conducting. Jeff later asked me to arrange the set for piano only, and I completed that version in the summer of 2011. He then premiered that version later that same year.

These four poems resonate strongly with me; I read "I Dream’d in a Dream" in the context of 9/11, "To Those Who’ve Fail'd" gives voice to my objection to the wars we have participated in for the last decade. "This is thy hour O Soul" and "Youth, Day, Old Age & Night" both speak to me on topics of aging, and the metaphysical.

All three versions are available from the composer, please contact me at [email protected]

Audio PLaylist