Program Notes: I Hear Oceans

Robert Bode
Robert Bode
Jacob Narverud
Jacob Narverud

I hear oceans
by Robert Bode

I hear oceans
I hear blue oceans
I hear black oceans
Silver oceans that travel under me

I hear tall oceans
I hear sad oceans
Oceans of refugees

I hear gentle oceans
I hear fright’ning oceans
Oceans that cover the ruins of temples

I hear oceans that call to me: “Come out!”
I hear oceans that don’t know my name

I hear oceans that sing in the night
I hear oceans that lift to the stars
I hear oceans that long to be free
I hear oceans

I hear great rolling oceans
I hear oceans, oceans
I hear oceans

This mysterious and thought-provoking concert work begins with the simple call of “I hear oceans” and melts into lush choral writing enhanced by interesting harmonies and textures.

 Notes from poet Robert Bode

I find writing texts for composers to be one of the most satisfying parts of my creative life. To date, I have over 40 poems set by 8 composers. The thrill of hearing my words set to music by creative and sensitive composers never goes away!

The great majority of my poems were written specifically so that they could be set to music. This challenges me to think somewhat differently than I would if I were writing a ‘regular’ poem. By that I mean that, when I know that my poem will be set to music, I try to include elements that make it ‘settable.’ A poem should contain relatively short phrases and clear images. It helps for the poem to have a rhythmic regularity and flow that suggest the rhythm and flow of music. And, perhaps most importantly, the ideas must be clearly presented. It doesn’t work if the listener can’t immediately tell what the poem is about! If I am successful in employing these elements then it is much easier for a composer to begin to hear the ‘music’ within the poem.

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