The Castle-Builder

for Alto, Cornet, and Piano

The inspiration for this piece was a baby shower invitation! My friends Dan and Aja Gianola-Norris were expecting a baby, and, since they are both musicians, I thought a piece of music would be the perfect gift. I had heard Dan give a trumpet recital where he brought in Aja at the end to join him on voice, and I remember thinking that this was a great combination. I also knew that Dan made arrangements so they would have something to perform together. Hence, the instrumentation I chose for this piece, alto, cornet, and piano. I used cornet instead of trumpet because I wanted a more mellow sound, with a little less resistance than what I associate with the trumpet sound, and therefore a better blend with the voice. As I searched for an appropriate poem to set, I came upon a wonderful poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow which seemed to have been made for the occasion! Longfellow's poem follows:


A gentle boy, with soft and silken locks,
A dreamy boy, with brown and tender eyes,
A castle-builder, with his wooden blocks,
And towers that touch imaginary skies.

A fearless rider on his father's knee,
An eager listener unto stories told
At the Round Table of the nursery,
Of heroes and adventures manifold.

There will be other towers for thee to build;
There will be other steeds for thee to ride;
There will be other legends, and all filled
With greater marvels and more glorified.

Build on, and make thy castles high and fair,
Rising and reaching upward to the skies;
Listen to voices in the upper air,
Nor lose thy simple faith in mysteries.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Aja Gianola-Norris, voice
Dan Gianola-Norris, cornet
Yvonne Wormer, piano