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Different kinds of shadows (2015)

for SSAA choir | 00:04:30

by Melissa Dunphy | text by Lola Ridge

Different Kinds of Shadows was commissioned by Women’s Ensemble and Bella Voce from Acalanes High School, Lafayette, CA (Bruce Lengacher, director) and Ancora from the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, Oakland, CA (Robert Geary, director) for Volti’s Choral Institute for High School Singers, January 2016.

There are different kinds of shadows.
The blind ones
are the shadows of things.
These are the tame shadows—
they love to play on the wall with you
and follow you about like cats and dogs.
Sometimes
they hiss at you softly
like snakes that do not bite,
or swish like women's dresses,
but if you poke a candle at them
they pull in their heads and disappear.

But there is a shadow
that is not the shadow of a thing...
it is a thing itself.
When you meet this shadow
you must not look at it too long...
it grows with your looking at it...
till you are all alone
with nothing around you...
nothing... nothing... nothing...
but a shadow
with its eyes full of black light.
—From Sun-Up [IV. Betty] by Lola Ridge (1920)

Other Lola Ridge songs:
Shadows over a cradle...
It's strange about stars...

Artwork by Melissa Dunphy


Performances

  • 31 Jan, 2016: Volti Choral Institute at CYO Retreat Center, Occidental, CA