Pride & Prejudice
The Cheah Chan Duo
Church of St. Luke in the Fields, NYC
Phillip Cheah, voice
Trudy Chan, piano
I wrote this short song for my dear friends baritone/countertenor Phillip Cheah and pianist Trudy Chan, who comprise the Cheah Chan Duo, for a recital they presented in June 2016 for Pride Week in New York City. Frank J. Oteri suggested that I look to the works of Richard Barnfield for this commission, pointing in particular to this sonnet, which is one of the most obviously homoerotic of the period (Barnfield was a contemporary and close friend of William Shakespeare, and it is speculated that Barnfield was the “rival poet” in Shakespeare’s own sonnets). I was instantly drawn to the tension in the text, which I chose to convey using static harmonies and shifts in texture: the narrator’s emotional turmoil over having kept his love for his friend a secret for so long, the uncertainty he faces in making this admission, and the way that the poem stops short of his friend’s reaction, leaving that question – and the tension – hanging. Although the situation could have gone in many different directions, I chose to present my own interpretation of the ending.
Sighing, and sadly sitting by my Love,
He ask’t the cause of my hearts sorrowing,
Conjuring me by heavens etemall King
To tell the cause which me so much did move.
Compell’d: (quoth I) to thee will I confesse,
Love is the cause; and only love it is
That doth deprive me of my heavenly blisse.
Love is the paine that doth my heart oppresse.
And what is she (quoth he) whom thou do’st love?
Looke in this glasse (quoth I) there shalt thou see
The perfect forme of my faelicitie.
When, thinking that it would strange Magique prove,
He open’d it: and taking of the cover,
He straight perceav’d himseife to be my Lover.
|June 24, 2016||Phillip Cheah, baritone; Trudy Chan, piano|
Cheah Chan Duo: Pride & Prejudice
|Church of St. Luke in the Fields||New York, NY|
|July 10, 2018||Phillip Cheah, baritone; Trudy Chan, piano|
Cheah Chan Duo: Broad Stripes and Bright Stars
|The Chapel of St. Bartholomew’s Church||New York, NY|