Let Me Start Over —2003

Let Me Start Over was commissioned by the 2003 West Chester University Poetry Conference.

I am grateful to Michael Peich, co-director of the West Chester University Poetry Conference, for introducing me to the poetry of Harvey Hix, and I am equally grateful to Harvey for allowing me to set his vivid poetry to music. For this triptych of songs, I chose three thematically related (non-sequential) stanzas from a tour-de-force of a poem titled “Orders of Magnitude.” I was drawn to these poems for their dark intimacy and their painfully honest confessions. These songs are dedicated to Mike Peich, for his love of song.


I. I confess
II. Let me start over
III. What you call courage


The Maggio pieces drew from two song cycles, Let Me Start Over (about regret) and Forgiving Our Fathers (about reconciliation), all reflecting superb taste in contemporary poetry (H.L. Hix and Mark Strand) plus a Rorem-calibre talent for concentrating meaning into an attractive vocal line. But while Rorem applies a Gallic rationality to the emotions at hand, the fearlessly confrontational Maggio projects cross-cutting shades of ambivalence with the confidence of a seasoned film editor – even when using simple ostinatos in piano accompaniment. As in Leonard Bernstein’s later music, Maggio gets too close for comfort. Then you realize that what you’re resisting isn’t the music but what it summons within yourself.

David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 11, 2005