Sleepless Eremite

Not in lone splendour; hung aloft the night
— Keats
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On the subject of water and set to the work 'Bright Star' by John Keats, Sleepless Eremite paints a scene of two people spending a finite time in each other's presence. It is a work of peace, celebration and nostalgia wound into one entity.

Scored for Chinese flutes, yangqin, pipa, erhu, violoncello and piano

One of the key points of focus in composing this work was to remain sensitive to both traditions of music so that the sonorities of East and West would stand with one another and compliment the ensemble while also offering the uniqueness of their individual voice.

A core element of performance in traditional Chinese music performance is that of storytelling, which involves some improvisation within the parameters established in the sound world. It was important to offer this freedom of expression to the performers which is done in the score through embellishment notation; the concept of which has been coined to allow dynamic freedom and flow within ensemble while still remaining within the parameters of a composed work of music. 


Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art— 

         Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night 

And watching, with eternal lids apart, 

         Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, 

The moving waters at their priestlike task 

         Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, 

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask 

         Of snow upon the mountains and the moors— 

No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable, 

         Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, 

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, 

         Awake for ever in a sweet unrest, 

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, 

And so live ever—or else swoon to death.


by John Keats

sourced from The Poetry Foundation