Let Evening Come


Let Evening Come is a song cycle by William Bolcom that sets the poetry of Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and Jane Kenyon. The cycle is for high soprano, piano, and viola.


The audio recordings of Let Evening Come, provided in the audio playlist to the right, are made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest. The performers are Laura Strickling, soprano, Laura Pearson, viola, and Liza Stepanova, piano, and the performance took place at SongFest 2012 at The Colburn School. To listen, please click on the track name itself.

Let Evening Come

Preface to the score of Let Evening Come, by William Bolcom:

In 1993 I was requested to write a singing duet for Tatiana Troyanos and Benita Valente, two wonderful artists. We discussed possible texts, and then very unexpectedly Tatiana died, a blow to all of us. I was then approached by the sponsors of the commission: Would I write a duo anyway, with...[soprano, piano, and viola], the violist in some way representing the departed Tatiana? The present cantata is the result.

The three poems chosen describe with ever greater acceptance the phenomenon of death. Maya Angelou's poem is still raw with the shock of so many lost artists of the African-American pantheon but observes with an almost journalistic candor the state we, the survivors, pass through after the death of a powerful person. Emily Dickinson's continues in the same dispassionate vein, observation not softening the grief but resolving it through deeper understanding; Jane Kenyon's invites us to contemplate the elegant beauty in death's resolution.

The violist's role did not turnout to be a ghostly recreation of Troyanos' spirit but, perhaps, that of a choral commentator on the poems' events. Though each setting is detachable from the other two, the viola-and-piano interlude between the last two poems is not; it serves as gateway to the "coming of evening."

(Note: The third movement of Let Evening Come is an interlude for viola and piano and is therefore not included in the Song of America database.)

Audio PLaylist