The frozen heart
Text: The Frozen Heart by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Instrumentation: Unaccompanied SATB chorus
Premiere: February 4, 2017, Kevreson Hall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI by the //meridian vocal ensemble
Program Note: Although Robert Herrick wrote over 2,500 poems in his lifetime, I was particularly drawn to The Frozen Heart because of its sharp imagery. The way Herrick juxtaposes a sing-song rhyme scheme with a theme as heavy as long-term loneliness is striking. As Herrick lost his father at a young age, was temporarily ejected from his vicarage, and never married, he was more than able to express his deep longing for love in his poetry. The poem's shifting tone at every couplet evidences the speaker's desperate attempt to rationalize his circumstances. Complex harmonies and special vocal techniques illustrate the sensations of cold and isolation so vividly depicted in Herrick's poetry. The Frozen Heart raises questions about how far one might go to obtain love, and at what point one ought to resign to a life of solitude.