This Is the Garden 

Composed in: 1987
Text by: E. E. Cummings
Instrumentation: Baritone & Piano
Mezzo-soprano & Piano
Tenor & Piano
Commissioned by: Elizabeth H. Henderson
for Pacific Serenades
Premiered by: Milton Friesen, baritone
Laraine Stivers, piano
Publisher: Pacific Serenades

Program Notes

This is the Garden is a set of three songs for voice and piano on poems by E. E. Cummings, which I wrote for a Pacific Serenades concert during its first season in 1987. I became entranced with these poems thanks to a composition student of mine, who shared with me a different Cummings poem that he intended to set. I had never read this poem, and it was so moving to me—viscerally, sonically, poetically, in every way, really—that I immediately determined to become better acquainted with his work. Within the next month, I had read nearly every poem Cummings had written, and I truly fell in love with many of them. I decided to set some of them for the upcoming Pacific Serenades concert and eventually settled on the three that make up this set of songs. I don’t remember that I chose them on purpose with this thread in mind, but each of the poems has to do with beauty—natural beauty—and our emotional and spiritual response to it.

This is the Garden was commissioned by Elizabeth H. Henderson for Pacific Serenades, and I wrote it for my friend Milton Friesen, for whom I had also written my first song cycle, Patchen Songs. They were premiered by Friesen and Laraine Stivers in July of 1987.