“I took the one less traveled by…. You come too… I would not come in. I meant not even if asked; And I hadn’t been… Someone said ‘Come.’… A little bit of everything, a great deal of none… But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep… We may choose something like a star.”
The title of this year’s Music Sunday, on March 25, is “Come In: Music of Belonging.” The Sanctuary Choir will sing poems by Robert Frost as set by long-time Harvard composer Randall Thompson, who was eulogized in the NY Times as “music’s Norman Rockwell, distilling the traditional values of his audience and reflecting them in uncomplicated, immediately comprehensible and endearing terms.” The Frostiana songs are deceptively simple, similar to Frost’s poems in their sense of something deeper, different, and perhaps darker lying below the surface. Not surprisingly, given Frost’s temperament, stories vary as to his reaction to the musical settings of his work. One version has the poet leaping to his feet at the premiere in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1959, shouting, “Sing it again!” But in fact, after the Frostiana premiere, Frost refused permission to set any of his poetry to music ever again – hard not to draw some conclusions there.
But for us, the music in the main does not obscure the poetic intent, and in some cases it appears to match the tone. I find this particularly in the piece “Come In,” with its thrush, its meditative, stretched-out moments, and its dark closing lines.
Other pieces around the idea of belonging – to a place, a time, a family – will include FUUSN member Adam Epstein’s work “If You Wish,” with text by the composer’s mother and by a mentor from India; and Hazel Dickens’ song “Won’t You Come and Sing [for] Me,” with its beautiful line “Sing those hymns we sang together In that plain little church where the benches are worn.”
We will sing together, and contemplate what it means to be invited into a particular place and time, on March 25. See you there. -Anne Watson Born