Eric Funk writes: "My philosophy around setting pre-existing texts to music is that a poem is already a complete work of art. When I consider setting a poem to music, I must feel that somehow music will enhance the poetry, framing it and holding it 'high' for the listener. I never alter a poem, expand, or in any way do anything that may 'damage' the poem. I simply let the natural rhythm and inflection of the poem as it is spoken drive the shape of the composition. These poems by Sara Teasdale have a lovely connection around love and relationship. My interest was to connect them, each poem leading to the next, and the last poem acting as a profound declaration of love in the form of an expected goodbye upon death. The choice of soprano and piano was inspired by wanting the singer's voice to be that of the poet., as if she were singing them. They are delicate, lyrical and tender songs.
I was asked to create a version for young female choir and, while I first retracted against the possibility of losing the intimacy of the solo voice, found ultimately that a group of young women singing these songs could be very powerful and equally tender. Much of what lay in the piano accompaniment becomes sung by Soprano 2, Alto 2 and 2, the piano part tracing the melodies in the 1st Soprano part."
Four Songs on Poems by Sara Teasdale have been recorded by Sarah Poole (soprano) and Derek Harris (piano) for Prima Facie Records.
ERIC FUNK was born in Deer Lodge, Montana in 1949 and studied composition with Tomas Svoboda, Sandor Veress and Krzysztof Penderecki. Since 1985 he has lived in Bozeman, Montana and was Music Director and Conductor of the Helena Symphony Orchestra from 1994 until 2002. In 1994 he co-founded the Gallatin Chamber Orchestra and combines a busy career as composer, conductor, jazz pianist, teacher and television presenter, having taught music theory at college in Oregon, Washington, Texas and Montana. Eric Funk is a prolific and successful composer, writing in almost every genre, and has received commissions from leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists from throughout the world. He writes in an independent and confident style, producing large-scale works alongside music on a smaller and more intimate scale, but always with a strong desire to communicate to audiences and performers alike. Five symphonies, 14 concertos, 6 ballets and 3 operas are at the heart of Eric Funk's orchestral output alongside much vocal and chamber music. His symphonies have been performed and recorded in America, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland and Latvia and he was Composer-in-Residence at Bass-Fest 2005 in England.
SARA TEASDALE was an American lyric poet and was born in St. Louis, Missouri on 8 August 1884. She suffered poor health as a child and was not well enough to begin school until the age of 9. She visited Europe numerous times from 1905 onwards, which she counted as an influence on her poetry, as were the works of Christina Rossetti, and the major themes in her work were love, nature's beauty and death. In 1918 she won the Columbia University Poetry Society prize (the forerunner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry) and the annual prize of the Poetry Society of America. She married the businessman Ernst Filsinger in 1914 and the following year moved to New York, which became her home for the rest of her life. Sara was very much a product of her Victorian upbringing and she was never able to experience in life the passion that she expressed in her poetry. She was not happy in her marriage and, against her husband's wishes, divorced him in 1929. Her health further declined and she died in New York City on 29 January 1933.