Lisa Bielawa

The Lay of the Love

Innova 915



The Lay of the Love and Death

1.    Introit-Riding (1:46)

2.    Meditation 1 (2:24)

3.    I Carry the Flag (1:53)

4.    Meditation 2 (4:02)

5.    Castle (3:26)

6.    Meditation 3 (2:36)

7.    Tower Room (2:58)

8.    Storm in the House (3:58)

9.    Meditation 4 (0:40)

10.  It Has Never Been So Kingly (1:50)

       Jesse Blumberg, baritone

       Jocelyn Dueck, piano

       Colin Jacobsen, violin


11.   Wait (7:31)

       Evelyne Luest, piano

       Drone: Adam Abeshouse, violin; Lisa Bielawa, voice


12.   Hurry (15:52)

       Sadie Dawkins Rosales, soprano

       Colin Jacobsen, violin

       Benjamin Hochman, piano

       Eric Jacobsen, cello

       Anthony McGill, clarinet

       Lance Suzuki, flute


Total: 49:24


©. Ganesa Music (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved, 2015.

innova Recordings is the label of the American Composers Forum.



Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literature and artistic collaborations. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival. Bielawa was appointed Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus in 2013. Her music is frequently performed throughout the US and Europe, with recent highlights including a residency at The Stone, a Radio France commission, and world premieres of Rondolette by Brooklyn Rider and Bruce Levingston, Double Violin Concerto by Boston Modern Orchestra Project, The Right Weather by American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, The Lay of the Love and Death at Lincoln Center, Chance Encounter by Susan Narucki and The Knights, and Airfield Broadcasts, a work for hundreds of musicians performed on former airfields in Germany and California. Her current project is Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser, a serial opera created for episodic broadcast.


Baritone Jesse Blumberg is equally at home on opera, concert, and recital stages.  His performances have included the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath at Minnesota Opera, Niobe, Regina di Tebe at Boston Early Music Festival, and Bernstein’s MASS at London’s Royal Festival Hall.  Recital highlights include appearances with the New York Festival of Song and performances of Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise with pianist Martin Katz. He has performed major works with American Bach Soloists, Oratorio Society of NY, Apollo’s Fire, Boston Baroque, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. Blumberg has given the world premieres of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Green Sneakers, Lisa Bielawa’s The Lay of the Love and Death, Conrad Cummings’ Positions 1956, and Tom Cipullo’s Excelsior, and he works closely with several other renowned composers as a member of the Mirror Visions Ensemble. Blumberg is also the founder and artistic director of Five Boroughs Music Festival in New York City.


Pianist Jocelyn Dueck is a seasoned performer of new music on the New York City circuit, premiering operas and other works by composers Eve Beglarian, Lisa Bielawa, Tom Cipullo, Corey Dargel, John Glover, Judd Greenstein, John Glover, Daron Hagen, Stephen Hartke, Gabriel Kahane, Gilda Lyons and Matthew Schickele, to name a few. Dueck was a collaborator on the Billboard Chart-topper Five Borough Songbook, a seminal collection of songs by New York City’s most innovative composers. The New York Times called her performance of the works “solid and colorful.”


Dueck has served on the faculties of Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, Bard, NYU and Mannes: The New School for Music, doing language preparation for their opera departments as well as teaching diction and song interpretation.


Pianist Benjamin Hochman has established an international presence through performances in major venues and with prestigious orchestras worldwide. An Avery Fisher Career Grant winner, his discography includes an Artek debut release in 2009; a Bridge Records release Insects and Paper Airplanes; The Chamber Music of Lawrence Dillon in 2010; a critically acclaimed solo album entitled Homage to Schubert was released in 2013 on Avie Records, followed by 2015’s Variations which explores the art form in works by Brahms, Knussen, Berio, Benjamin, and Lieberson.


Hochman is a graduate of the Curtis Insitute of Music and the Mannes College of Music where his principal teachers included Claude Frank and Richard Goode. He is currently on the piano faculty of Bard College and the Longy Schoool of Music.


A recent recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship, Colin Jacobsen’s multifaceted life in music as a violinist and composer is focused in three groups: the Silk Road Ensemble, founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma; the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, which performs at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and SXSW; and The Knights, an innovative orchestra of which he is founder and co-Artistic Director along with his brother, Eric Jacobsen. He has also been awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant for his work as a soloist and performed with orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony.


Hailed by The New York Times as “an interpretive dynamo,” conductor and cellist Eric Jacobsen is co-founder of the adventurous string quartet Brooklyn Rider and game-changing orchestral collective The Knights as well as a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s celebrated Silk Road Ensemble. Under his baton, The Knights have toured the globe and recorded eight critically acclaimed albums. Jacobsen also serves as Principal Conductor of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and Artistic Partner of the Northwest Sinfonietta, and has appeared on the podium with the Camerata Bern, Baltimore Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Alabama Symphony, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.


Pianist Evelyne Luest is an accomplished soloist and chamber musician and has performed and toured in Europe, South America, Asia and the US. She has won several competitions including the Artists International Competition in New York as soloist as well as many awards with her ensemble, Contrasts Quartet. Luest has performed as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Italy and on the St. Paul Sunday national radio show. Her many collaborations include such noted musicians as cellist Truls Mørk, flutist Emmanuel Pahud and the Daedalus String Quartet. Her performances include festivals and concert venues in Norway, France, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela, Canada, and the US. Ms. Luest’s long list of premieres includes compositions by Ned Rorem, Joan Tower, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Lisa Bielawa. She studied with Gilbert Kalish at SUNY/Stony Brook, where she received an M.M. and D.M.A. in piano performance. Ms Luest lives in New York City with her husband, Aaron Jay Kernis, and their two children.


Anthony McGill, named Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic beginning in September 2014, held the same position with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 2004. He was chosen to perform with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero at President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.


Performances throughout the US, Europe, Asia and South Africa in recital, chamber music and as soloist with orchestra consistently receive rave reviews. As an educator, McGill is on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music and Bard College Conservatory. From Chicago, McGill attended The Curtis Institute of Music and is a recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, as well as the first Sphinx Medal of Excellence.


Montana-born Sadie Dawkins Rosales has enjoyed a versatile career encompassing traditional opera and oratorio, contemporary music and musical theater. Notable appearances include Kepler with Oper Linz at BAM,  Einstein on the Beach at Carnegie Hall with the Philip Glass Ensemble, and Many Many Women by Peter Kotik at Ostrava Days, and as soloist with the Janáceck Philharmonic.  She has also sung new works by Aaron Jay Kernis, Kamala Sankaram, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Johannes Kalitzke.  In 2008 Rosales made her New York recital debut under the auspices of Artists International at Weill Recital Hall, where she presented Lisa Bielawa’s Hurry along with works by Sibelius, Turina, Berg, and Britten. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music where she won awards from the Metropolitan Opera Council, the Max Berman Prize in Opera, and the Italo Tajo Prize in Opera. 


Flutist Lance Suzuki has been consistently praised for his “gorgeous” (The New York Times), “captivat[ing]” (New York Concert Review) and “mesmerizing” (New York Classical Review) performances. As a chamber musician and soloist, he has appeared at such venues as the Marlboro Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum, the 92nd St. Y, Bargemusic, Bard Summerscape, and live on NPR’s Performance Today. He has premiered new works with the Metropolis, Argento, and East Coast Contemporary ensembles, and in Carnegie Hall workshops led by Dawn Upshaw. He also performs with ensembles such as the Mark Morris Dance Group, the Hawaii Symphony, and the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra.



The Lay of the Love and Death

Premiere: March 22, 2006; Baritone Jesse Blumberg, violinist Colin Jacobsen, pianist Jocelyn Dueck; Alice Tully Hall, Premiere Commission Gala, Lincoln Center, New York City. Commissioned by the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation.


In World War I, thousands of copies of a single little book survived in the coat pockets of dead soldiers. It was Rilke’s epic poem, The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke, a work now little-known and often dismissed as juvenilia. The eponymous Cornet is a 19-year-old apocryphal ancestral cousin of Rainer Maria’s who fought and died in the 17th-century war with the Hussars. The poet Rilke was young and full of romantic, creative power when he discovered evidence, in family documents, of the forgotten Christopher. The 23-year-old poet encountered a phantom self in the Cornet – another Rilke whose life was full of wide-eyed courage, action and discovery, but at a terrible cost. The book was written feverishly, in one night. Perhaps the poet Rilke, suddenly aware of his own mortality, was also already aware that, although many of us continue living into more reflective, circumspect years, in a sense all of us die young, because the innocence of our young selves cannot survive the various awarenesses that are the inevitable result of a prolonged tender encounter with a troubled world. A phantom self of my own emerged while I was working on this piece. While exploring a sound world that could engage Colin’s and Jesse’s gifts as well as Rilke’s poem, I came face to face with a piano piece I wrote when I was 19. It wanted to be in this piece too, and so it is – it forms the propulsive motive that runs throughout Storm in the House.


Excerpts from The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke

by Rainer Maria Rilke



Riding, riding, riding, through the day, through the night, through the day.

Riding, riding, riding.

And courage is grown so weary, and longing so great. There are no hills anymore, hardly a tree. Nothing dares stand up. Alien huts crouch thirstily by mired springs. Nowhere a tower. And always the same picture. One has two eyes too many. Only in the night sometimes one seems to know the road…


I Carry the Flag

Von Langenau is writing a letter, deep in thought. Slowly he traces in great, earnest, upright letters:

                        “My good mother,

            be proud: I carry the flag,

            be free of care: I carry the flag,

            love me: I carry the flag – ”


Rest! To be a guest for once…for once to let things happen to one and to know: what happens is good…And to begin again learning what women are. And how the white ones do and how the blue ones are…

* * *

It began as a feast. And became a festival, one hardly knows how…There was a beating of waves in the halls, a meeting together and a choosing of each other, a parting with each other and a finding again, a rejoicing in the radiance and a blinding in the light…Out of dark wine and a thousand roses runs the hour rushing into the dream of night.

* * *

he asks a woman, who leans to him:

“Are you the night?”

She smiles.

* * *

And now he has nothing on. And he is naked as a saint. Bright and slender.

* * *

Slowly the castle lights go out. Everyone is heavy: tired or in love or drunk.

* * *

Shorter are the prayers in bed.

But more heartfelt.


Tower Room

The tower room is dark.

But they light each other’s faces with their smiles. They grope before them like blind people and find each the other as they would a door. Almost like children that dread the night, they press close into each other. And yet they are not afraid. There is nothing that might be against them: no yesterday, no morrow; for time is shattered. And they flower from its ruins.

He does not ask: “Your husband?”

She does not ask: “Your name?”

For indeed they have found each other, to be unto themselves a new generation.

They will give each other a hundred new names and take them all off again, gently, as one takes an ear-ring off.

Storm in the House

Was a window open? Is the storm in the house? Who is slamming the doors? Who goes through the rooms? – Let be. No matter who. Into the tower room he will not find his way. As behind a hundred doors is this great sleep two people have in common; as much in common as one mother or one death.

* * *

Is this the morning? What sun is rising? How big is the sun? Are those birds? Their voices are everywhere.

All is bright, but is it not day.

All is loud, but not with the voices of birds.

It is the timbers that shine. It is the windows that scream…Fire!

And with torn sleep in their faces they all throng through, half iron, half naked, from room to room, from wing to wing, and seek the stair.

And with broken breath horns stammer in the court:

Muster, muster!

* * *

But the flag is not there.

Cries: Cornet!

Careering horses, prayers, shouts,

Curses: Cornet!

Iron on iron, signal, command;

Stillness: Cornet!

And once again: Cornet!

And away with the thundering cavalcade.

* * *

But the flag is not there.


It Has Never Been So Kingly

He is running a race with burning halls…Upon his arms he carries the flag like a white, insensible woman. And he finds a horse, and it’s like a cry: away over all, passing everything by, even his own men. And then the flag comes to itself again, and it has never been so kingly; and now they all see it…

But, behold, it begins to glow, flings itself out and grows wide and red…

* * *

Their flag is aflame in the enemy’s midst…


­— Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. M.D. Herter Norton

Used with permission. All rights reserved by Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main.



Premiere: January 21, 2002; Pianist Evelyne Luest with members of Contrasts Quartet; Merkin Concert Hall, New York City


“I roam above the sea, I wait for the right weather, I beckon to the sails of ships. Under the cope of storms, with waves disputing, On the free crossway of the sea When shall I start on my free course?”

Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, tr. Vladimir Nabokov


Wait is the second of four related works based on six lines from Nabokov’s translation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, which has passages of great intimacy and vulnerability, sections where the storyteller addresses the reader directly and hints at sorrows of his own, before going back to the story at hand. This passage, which struck a powerful chord in me, gave rise to four separate pieces, each bearing the title of one of the active verbs – Roam, Wait, Beckon, and Start. Together these four pieces form the half-concert-length work The Right Weather.


There is such beauty and even strength in the part of us that stubbornly will not move on. When I read this Pushkin excerpt, which I see as a meditation on the narrator’s own internal exile, I felt I had found a whole emotional world that could guide me through an extended musical journey. The same tenacious musical material from the orchestral Roam appears in Wait, only now in a dialogue between the soloist and a drone. When pianist Andrew Armstrong first encountered Wait, he wrote to me, “the drone lets the piano music have its impetuous, child-like way. It lets the piano protest, wonder, love, regret – all those messy things human beings do in between our two eternal silences.”


Premiere: October 10, 2004; Dawn Upshaw Perspectives Series, Carnegie Hall; Weill Recital Hall, New York City.


Pasternak knew, just as the Greeks knew before him, that sometimes there can be a song emergency. In the ancient Greek world, songs change things: paeans keep order between people and gods; the Sirens’ song changes the courses of ships. Our poet beckons exigently to his muse, demanding beauty to counteract the chaos, sadness, stagnancy, insomnia and starvation in the house. His song is a paean too – to his own verses, for their power to bring succor. And they do. When I read this verse, it touches the place of distress and disarray in me while it fills me with a willful idealism, a heroic kindliness. At the moment that we acknowledge how emotionally depleted we are, we come to our own rescue with an alarming new energy – there is compassion and initiative in us after all, we still love.  We are giddy with joy but baffled; this phenomenon belies all our understanding of emotional economy.


Pasternak invited me to make a space where this unaccountable resuscitation could be sung. I hoped to re-create, in musical time, the experience I had reading the poem.



From Hurry, my Verses


Hurry, my verses, hurry; never

have I so needed you before.

Round the corner there’s a house

where the days have broken rank.

Comfort there’s none and all work’s stopped

and there they weep, ponder and wait.


Drowsing they gulp the half-insomniac’s

bitter bromides down like water.

There is the house, where the bread’s bitter,

there is the house, so hurry there.

Let snowstorms whoop in from the streets, -

you’re like a rainbow in the crystal,

a dream, a bit of news: I send you,

send you and that means I’m in love.


— Boris Pasternak, translated from the Russian by J. M. Cohen.

Used with permission from the Estate of J. M. Cohen.






Recorded 2007 at the Recital Hall, Purchase College, State University of New York

Liner notes by Lisa Bielawa

Produced and engineered by Adam Abeshouse

Assistant Engineer: Andy Ryder

Edited by Lisa Bielawa and Adam Abeshouse

Mastered by Adam Abeshouse

Piano Technician: Ed Court


Artworks by Warren Chappell reproduced by permission of the Arion Press, from The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell, 1983.

Publicity: Christina Jensen PR

innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.

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