Song of Songs was composed in early 1998 for Toronto’s Continuum Contemporary Music group. It is based on the biblical text of the same name, sometimes called "Song of Solomon," a lengthy poem about love told from three different points of view.
The two principal characters are male and female, as indicated by the gender of the Hebrew pronouns used, and their narratives are interspersed with occasional commentary by others, called "friends," who serve a role akin to the chorus in the plays of Greek antiquity. Biblical commentators suggest the text was written by different authors at different times, as the style and content is not consistent. I chose to set only a small fraction of the text to music, all of it from the point of view of the female, or "beloved." I was attracted by the sensuous quality present in much of the "Song." My musical setting is fairly simple, basically tonal, and in sections corresponding with the mood changes of the text, which I chose and adapted freely.
Song of Songs was premiered on March 3, 1998, at The Music Gallery (Toronto) by Lori Klassen (m-sop), Bill Brennan (perc), Mark Fewer (vn), and Mark Widner (vc). It was subsequently performed by Carolyn Hart (sop), David Humphries (perc), Allison McLlelan (vn), and Theo Weber (vc) at D. F. Cook Recital Hall (St. John's) in January, 1999. Other performances include Wheaton College, Illinois, in 2008.
©Clark Winslow Ross