Orchestra
Soloist(s) and orchestra
Band / Wind / Brass Ensemble
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2-8 players
Solo (excluding keyboard)
Solo keyboard(s)
Chorus a cappella or plus 1 instrument
Chorus and orchestra
Solo voice and up to 8 players
The Ghosts of Versailles: arias and excerpts (voice(s) and piano)
Three Cabaret Songs (voice(s) and piano)
End of the Line
Opera
Film scores


Fern Hill (1960)
version for mezzo soprano, harp, chorus, and strings
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see also: 1965 version with full orchestra, 1999 version with chamber orchestra, and A Dylan Thomas Trilogy

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First performed on Dec. 19, 1961, Chorus and Orchestra of the Manhattan School of Music under Hugh Ross. Premiere, December 19, 1961, Carnegie Recital Hall, NY

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Listen to a sound clip

rent score and parts from G. Schirmer Inc 

order vocal score from www.musicdispatch.com 

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Scored for mezzo soprano, SATB chorus, harp, piano, and strings

Duration  16 minutes

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Recording
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Milago Vargas, mezzo soprano, with the Oregon Repertory Singers, Gilbert Seeley, conductor Koch 3-7253-2 H1 (1998)

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I first encountered Dylan Thomas’ work in 1959, my last undergraduate year at Columbia College. It was a revelation. Both the sound and structures of Thomas’s words were astonishingly musical. Not by accident, either: “What the words meant was of secondary importance; what matters was the sound of them...these words were as the notes of bells, the sounds of musical instruments," he wrote in his Poetic Manifesto of 1951. I was irresistibly drawn to translate his music into mine.

One poem captivated me: Fern Hill, about the poet’s “young and easy" summers at his family’s farm of the same name. I wanted to write this work as a gift for my high-school music teacher, Mrs. Bella Tillis, who first encouraged my musical ambitions. She introduced Fern Hill with piano accompanying her (and, once, my) school choir.

Fern Hill is a blithe poem, yet touched by darkness; time finally holds the poet “green and dying," but the poem itself, formally just an ABA song extended into a wide arch, sings joyously of youth and its keen perceptions. I set it for mezzo-soprano solo, chorus, and orchestra, aiming to match the forthright lyricism of the text. (The direction “with simplicity" is everywhere in the printed score.)

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                     — John Corigliano

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