Dear friends, one and all,
I don't know whether mine was a geographic (i.e. European-specific) or generational experience but, be it as it may, I am one of those who grew up with (and on) such texts as Hermann Hesse's Demian, Steppenwolf, Magister Ludi and the like.
Thus it was a profound "homecoming" of sorts when I was asked by the Dutch ensemble Asteria, comprising countertenor Sytse Buwalda, guitarist Saskia Spinder, and mandolinist Ferdinand Binnendijk, to compose a song-cycle on poems by that gentlest soul among German expatriates, and a towering figure, Nobel-prize-pedigreed man of letters.
This past week I delivered my Hesse Lieder, a cycle of nine songs, grouped (by Sytse and Saskia) into three smaller threesomes, thematic mini-cycles. They are scored for alto, with the guitar providing the "orchestral" accompaniment, and the mandolin discretely chiming in with a simple, straight-from-the-heart obbligato.
Some of these songs will be premiered as soon as this July 14th (!) in the Netherlands, then the cycle in its entirety on several occasions next fall, in Havana, Cuba.
Judgment on how good (or not) these songs are belongs to others. All I can say is that my life will never be the same, now that I wrote them. The inward/outward journey these poems took me on was an intensely private experience, yet also one that virtually everyone and anyone familiar with Hesse's writings would fully, intuitively understand.
Let the curtain rise!