settings of poems by William Carlos Williams


for elite chorus (12-24 voices)

[/scoring] [duration]

12 Minutes

[/duration] [movements]
  1.  The News from Poems
  2. The Red Wheelbarrow
  3. The Loving Dexterity
  4. Defiance to Cupid
  5. This is Just to Say
  6. Epilogue
[/movements] [performance-materials]

Subito Music

[/performance-materials] [sound-files]

The News from Poems
The Red Wheelbarrow

The Loving Dexterity
Defiance to Cupid
This is Just to Say

[/sound-files] [commissioned-by]

The Kansas City Chorale, Charles Bruffy, Director

[/commissioned-by] [performances]

Friday, March 10, 2006
St. Louis, MO
American Choral Directors’ Association
Southwest Regional Conference

Saturday, January 21, 2006
Kansas City, MO

University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music
Kansas City, MO

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Overland Park, KS

Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church
Overland Park, KS

Sunday, April 25, 2004
Kansas City, MO
World Premiere

St. Elizabeth’s Church
Kansas City, MO

[/performances] [program-notes]

The tiny poems of William Carlos Williams are crystalline visual snapshots. Each describes a single image: a red wheelbarrow, a decapitated flower, some plums. Yet in each single gesture, instantaneous and finite, the poet creates a whole universe that resonates and suspends time like a great fermata. In setting these poems, I have avoided embellishing the simple direct langauge that was so revolutionary. Rather, I have tried only to put the words and images out in high relief, and to give them a sound universe that reflects my feelings about them.

But Williams didn’t write only short imagistic gems. The pediatrician/obstetrician also wrote long, long poems observing the smallest details of mundane life in his town in New Jersey, rendering them utterly universal. The title of this choral work comes from the single line buried deep within “Of Asphodel, that greeny flower.” The line clobbered me over the head when I read it. I use it for both prologue and epilogue:

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

I do not believe there has ever been a time in our nation’s history when this quiet observation was more grievously true.

[/program-notes] [review]

Paul Horsley, The Kansas City Star:
Susan Kander’s “The News from Poems” was a richly varied group of William Carlos Williams settings. I liked the short bursts of sound at the opening, the yelps and staccato cries of “The Loving Dexterity” , the aggressive but controlled fortissimo of “Defiance to Cupid” and the choral imitation of plucked strings in “This is Just to Say.”