Three Existential Songs
Three Existential Songs, completed in 2016, was written for University of Utah tenor Robert Breault and pianist Jeffrey Price. The title refers to the existential nature of the texts. The first, Afterword to Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, reflects a concern with identity in the desperation with which the Thomas Malory of the Afterward wishes to make clear that it was he and not one of the other Thomas Malorys (there were, I think, three) who wrote Morte d’Arthur The second, 20 Questions, by University of Utah poet (and former Utah poet laureate) Katharine Coles, references the game of the same name to ask searching questions about an unknown entity; and the third, Winter Solstice, also by Coles, speaks of the weary sameness of years and the changes of moments. The three songs act as a set, the long piano introduction to the first, serving as a kind of overture to all three. Throughout, the vocal line expresses the text while the piano part often serves to comment.
A recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Composers’ Conference, Steve Roens has received commissions from the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, the NOVA Chamber Music Series, and the Intermezzo Chamber Music Series. In addition to teaching music theory and composition at the University of Utah he has served as an Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts, a Senior Associate Dean of the University’s Office of Undergraduate Studies and Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. His music is published by the Association for the Promotion of New Music and is available on the Centaur label.