Men at Dusk —1995

Men at Dusk is a song-cycle commissioned by the Mid-Atlantic Chamber Music Society for Alan Wagner, baritone, Raymond Montoni, viola, and Nanette Duea, piano. This trio of performers presented the premiere of the songs at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington.

Program Note

When writing songs, I like to begin with the words. Consequently before I started to think about the music for Men at Dusk, I gave a lot of thought to finding the right poet (Howard Kaplan), the right poems, and the right order for these poems.
For me, the central themes of these four poems are loss and transition—moments in life when we realize that change is upon us, and we must decide how to move with it. These themes came to me as I was considering the text of the first song (Men at Dusk), which now seems like an invocation to memory, and to expressing feelings, particularly those of loss—which is exactly the territory that the next two songs (Cyclone 1972 and Farmers Market) explore.
The final song (Spring Constellation) is a nighttime celebration of the present and a wish for the future. This song has recently been selected to be part of the AIDS Quilt Song Book presented in Philadelphia by Orchestra 2001 in 1996.
The music of these songs suggests images of nature, from the wind chimes of the first song to the twinkling of stars in the final one. In the the vocal line, which includes speaking and singing, I relied on the poetry to guide the dramatic shape of the whole set of songs, which begins rather quietly and slowly, and builds in intensity toward the final song.


  1. Men at Dusk
  2. Cyclone 1972
  3. Interlude—Farmers Market
  4. Spring Constellation