What the Moon Said

This piece is a setting of the beautiful and evocative poem of the same name by the Native American poet Paula Gunn Allen. It is part of a collection called "Meditations on the Moon," published in Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry. I was drawn to it because of the strong, yet changing, moods that the poet explores in the poem. The resulting piece moves through several moods accordingly: lonely and austere; angry; warm and content; reflective. In between each mood the music returns to an echo of the opening austere music.

This piece was written for baritone James Ivey. Like Barber's Dover Beach, it is scored with an accompaniment of string quartet. What the Moon Said is available from Theodore Presser in the original version for voice and string quartet as well as a piano/vocal score.