I still remember the first time I read Blood and the Moon by W. B. Yeats—it was as if in an instant I was teleported from my living room to somewhere outdoors, in the dark of the night. The air was eerily still, and no one was there but me and a tower, drenched in moonlight.
Commissioned by Crossing Borders Concert Series founded and curated by soprano Maureen Batt, Blood and the Moon is a song cycle for tenor and piano reflecting upon human thirst for power and its most pervasive manifestation—War.
The three selected poems in this cycle address human violence from different angles. In Blood and the Moon, we see a striking contrast between the human will to power symbolized by the Tower, and wisdom, that unattainable ideal, symbolized by the Moon. Throughout history, humans have always sought to seize power—some by bloodshed, others by intellect. But wisdom remains unattainable. And the Moon looks cooly on, unaffected and untainted, as we continue in the cycle of thirst for power. In Symbols, the beauty of gold-sewn silk contrasted with the sword, symbolizing the foolishness of war; while in An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, the airman conveys a view on war not as often talked about—not for patriotism, nor for thirst for power, but for a moment of purpose and significance.
Blood and the Moon will be premiered by tenor Fabián Arciniegas and pianist Claire Harris as part of the Crossing Borders Concert Series 2020-2021 season. We acknowledge the generous support of Canada Council for the Arts
and Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.