Three Lullabies

Three Lullabies


three lullabies for tenor and piano (12')

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Winner of a 2008 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award

In the permanent repertoire of the "Contemporary Music Lab for Composer and Perfomer" course at Universidad EAFIT

in three movements

Completed in October, 2007.

Dedicated to Derek and Laura Chester. World premiere on November 11, 2007 by Zachary Wadsworth (tenor) and Sezi Seskir (piano).

Text: poems by Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881), William Shakespeare (1564-1616), and Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)


The three poems in this set of lullabies reveal their genre’s true emotional complexity. Traditionally, the lullaby song is one sung by a parent to their child in order to lull them to sleep. Below this simple and tender surface, however, lies a more complicated emotional landscape, steeped in parents’ anxieties about the safety of their child in a dangerous world.

The first song follows many lullaby conventions: triple meters, a tendency towards flat keys, and a folk-like, strophic melody. This simple tune, though, floats above a harmonically turbulent accompaniment, painting the poem’s lurking dichotomy of “wonderland” versus “underland.” The second song is set in a triumphant (if ridiculous) bel canto, evoking more the opera house than the rocking-chair. Its extravagantly nightmarish symbolism and momentary lapses into dreamy melody paint a picture of heroic conquest, where sleep is only won through gallant defense from the many fearsome creatures lurking close by. The final song, drenched in a new mother’s anxiety for her husband’s safe return from sea, occupies an altogether darker universe than the previous songs. Here, the throbbing rhythm of the ocean wind is a constant reminder of her husband’s perilous distance. Despite her fears, the mother, with great hope, sings her restless child to sleep.

These lullabies are dedicated to Laura and Derek Chester, on the birth of their first son, Zachary.

A performance by Andrew Fuchs (tenor) and Peter Walsh (piano):

A performance by Ethan DePuy (tenor) and Shelby Rhoades (piano):