I seem to have been obsessed with lumping sets of four movements or songs in most of the music from this period. Like Four Painters, this piece paints musical portraits of four poets. The process of trying to figure out how to express the musical persona of a particular poet is a mysterious one but an exciting one for a composer. As I have been “inspired” by paintings, and have set poetry, this compositional exercise turned the tables a bit and allowed me to look at another side of poets: the one projected by their poetry, which may not necessarily be the persona they had in life.
James Merrill and I were friends. He let me stay in the maid’s quarters in his New York apartment. I’ve always had a hard time setting his poetry as I prefer to hear him, or imagine him reading it.
This work is for string quartet and was commissioned by, dedicated to and premiered by The Ives Quartet.
Four Poets (2005) for string quartet
Music: Roger Bourland
Performers: The Ives Quartet
Publisher: Yelton Rhodes Music