Cicada Songs

Composed by Charles Hoag
Series Editor: Simon Carrington
Voicing: SATB
Instrumentation: clarinet and marimba
Catalog number: AMP 5017
Price: $4.95

It all started several summers ago when we were enduring a deluge of periodic cicadas. I sat on my front porch and knocked out a verse about them. The verse led to my starting a collection of the various kinds of cicadas, which may to this day be viewed through the rear window of my car. The collection of cicadas led to the songs. The songs are dedicated to my wife.

Cicadas have had good press ever since antiquity. I have found texts about them on the Internet, in Japanese haikus, in Homer, and in Goethe, who in turn translated his poem from Anacreon, a Greek poet from the sixth century B.C. In addition, I have a lovely poem by KU's own Elizabeth Schultz, the aforementioned verse of my own, and a phrase spoken in our backyard by my wife, Mary Tuven. I have arranged them in the following order for purely musical reasons,

Dog Day Harvest Fly (Charles Hoag) 
Like Cicadas (after Homer) 
In That harsh Tune (Charles Hoag) 
Four Haikus (Ransetsu, Basho, Otokumi, and Issa) 
Happy art the Cicadas (after Xenarchos of Rhodes) 
An die Zikade (translated by Johann Wolfgang Goethe from Anacreon, 6th century B.C.) 
Kyoto Summer/Kansas Summer (after Elizabeth Schultz, University of Kansas Emerita) 
with changes by Charles Hoag 
Seara, Seara (after Mary Tuven) 

I am deeply indebted to all the poets and also to Heinrich Stammler for his beautiful translation of the Goethe printed among the other texts below.

Charles Hoag 
Professor of Music Theory and Composition
The University of Kansas 

Choirs should relish the words of each of the poems and take care to color sounds differently for each movement to underline the variety of scenes and contexts invoked by the choral and instrumental writing.

Simon Carrington
Professor of Choral Conducting
Conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum 
Yale University

Cicada (Dog Day Harvest Fly)
Shrill in your hearing
When heat is searing:
Harvest is by.

Cloying, annoying,
Bright August enjoying,
Midsummer's cry.

Now cool interrupting
His legato corrupting:
"Neara, neara"
Life soon shall be by.

How blind is his flying
Staccato and crying,
"Sic transit Cicada"
Dog Day Harvest Fly.

Like Cicadas
Like Cicadas sitting
upon a tree in the forest,
and pouring out their piping voices
So the leaders of the Trojans
were sitting in their towers.

Like Cicadas sitting
upon a tree in the forest. . .

Now Near, Now Far
One close by
One answered yonder
Now near now far
I'm left to ponder
what the message could contain
That need be said again, again.
The tune I know
but not the tale in back and forth
repeated hail repeatedı

Four Haiku Lo, the heart-rending cry
Of a cicada caught by a hawk!

His voice
Consumed by crying
Only the shell remains

Forest cicadas
some have cool voices

Cicadas of my hut
I'll be going away,
so make love and enjoy yourselves.

Happy are the cicadas
Happy are the Cicadas
for their wives
are mute!

An die Zikade
Selig bist du, liebe Kleine,
Die du auf der Bäume–Zweigen
Von geringem Trank begeistert
Singend wie ein Konig lebest!
Dir gehöret eigen alles
Was du auf den Felderrn siehest,
Alles was die Stunden bringen;
lebest unter Ackersleuten Ihre
Freundin ohnbeschıdigt,
Du den Sterblichen verehrte,
Süssen Frühlings
Süsser Bote!

To A Cicada
Blissful thou art, dear little one,
Who lives among the trees' boughs
Inspired by but a few drops of drink,
Singing like a king.
All you see in the field is thine,
All what the hours might bring–
So you live among the tillers of the soil
As their friend, unharmed,
Venerated by the mortals
As sweet messenger of sweet spring!

Ja dich lieben alle Musen
Phöbus selber muss dich lieben;
Gaben dir die Silberstimme,
Dich ergreifet nie das Alter,
Weise, zarte, Dichterfreundin,
Ohne Fleisch und Blutgeborne
Leidenlose Erdentochter,
Fast den Göttem zu vergleichen.
Selig bist du, liebe kleineı

Yes, all the muses love you–
Phoebus himself must love you–
For they gave you the silver voice,
Never will old age affect you–
You, the friend of poets, wise and tender,
Born without flesh and blood,
Daughter of the earth
Comparable almost to the immortal gods.

Kyoto Summer/Kansas summer
Kyoto summer
Three children walking
Through early morning mist
Toward a shrine
A pet cicada on a string leash
Leading us.

Kansas summers
My mother offers me
A cicada husk
As light as a tear
All sound escaped.

Seara, Seara
Seara, seara,
I wonder how they know
to crescendo together.
Who is their conductor?

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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