Written in the Spring of 2011 for mezzo-soprano Maren Beckman, O Cool is the Valley Now (for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, and piano) is a setting of James Joyce’s (1882-1941) poem of the same name.
O cool is the valley now
And there, love, will we go
For many a choir is singing now
Where Love did sometime go.
And hear you not the thrushes calling,
Calling us away?
O cool and pleasant is the valley
And there, love, will we stay.
The piece uses a method of harmonization which I call polymodality which blends four modes at the same time, creating highly chromatic yet highly consonant music.
O Cool is the Valley Now tied for second place in the 2011 Minnesota Music Educators Association Collegiate Composition Contest in the Chamber Group division.