Live recordings, Other original music and arrangements, Piano, Vocal

The Hawthorn Tree – Live

This was a commission from the Shenandoah University Cantus Singers to portray works by women. The poem is “The Hawthorn Tree” by Willa Cather. It is performed by the Cantus Singers under the direction of Dr. Karen Keating.

The Hawthorn Tree is a poem by Willa Cather (1783-1847), pulitzer-prize winning author and journalist. She is well known for her novels about the Great Plains (e.g., O Pioneers!), but she was born in Gore, Virginia, a few miles west of Winchester. She lived nearby for her first ten years, then moved with her family to Nebraska, where she is a cultural icon. Her birthplace is on Route 50 west of Winchester. There is an historical marker on the highway, although the house itself is gone.

THE HAWTHORN TREE
by: Willa Cather

Across the shimmering meadows–
Ah, when he came to me!
In the spring-time,
In the night-time,
In the starlight,
Beneath the hawthorn tree.

Up from the misty marshland
Ah, when he climbed to me!
To my white bower,
To my sweet rest,
To my warm breast,
Beneath the hawthorn tree.

Ask of me what the birds sang,
High in the hawthorn tree;
What the breeze tells,
What the rose smells,
What the stars shine–
Not what he said to me!

“The Hawthorn Tree” is reprinted from “April Twilights” by Willa Cather; published by The Gorham Press, Boston, in 1903.

This setting is modeled on the style of an English madrigal, calling for restraint in dynamics, gentle lyricism, and clear articulation of the text.

(recorded live 10 April 2015; posted 24 September 2017)

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