En De Ru Pt

Lori Laitman

The Music of Lori Laitman, now available as PDFs

Becoming a Redwood — scored for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra (priced for 2 copies — for soloist and conductor)

Lori Laitman
Dana Gioia
Enchanted Knickers Music
Classical / Song
Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Oboe, Horn, Trumpet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double bass, Soprano
Scored for
Chamber orchestra
Type of score
Full score
Year of composition

I composed Becoming a Redwood (in its original version for soprano and piano) between August and November of 2003, as a 50th birthday present for my husband Bruce Rosenblum.

The Song is loosely based on a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) and the remaining three poems by Dana Gioia (1950 - ) reflect on love, death, and healing. I was drawn to The Song by this phrase: "But all that ever touched us - you and me/touched us together/ like a bow/that from two strings could draw one voice." The soaring vocal line associated with these words becomes the climax of this song, and portions of this melody transform and are used throughout the cycle, particularly in the last song.

Pentecost, written after the death of Mary and Dana Gioia’s infant son from SIDS, is the emotional centerpiece of the cycle. The opening weaving melodic vocal line (transformed from the main theme in The Song) hovers over an ostinato bass figure, which represents haunting memories. Another transformation of the same melody appears with the words "when memory/Repeats its prosecution" — here the melody echoes itself and suggests keening and the physical rocking motion associated with grief. To underscore the idea of improvisation, the motif appears in a new guise (“nor any prayers/Improvised to an unknowable god”). The use of both melodic and harmonic repetitions creates great tension, leading to the climax as the singer wails "comfort me with stones." Dramatic octave leaps portray grief in its full force. The song then returns to the repetitive motif to accompany the words “mix our ashes” — with the image of stirring now invoked. The music culminates in a wordless vocalise which hints at a diminished but prevailing sadness.

Curriculum Vitae provides a release to the intensity of Pentecost. In order to reflect on the poem’s message, I chose to mimic the carillon, which chimes the hour and is a symbol of the passing of time. The sustained use of pedal in the original version blurred the harmonies, creating a tonality similar to the carillon's unusual overtones. For the orchestral version, the instruments blend with each other to create unusual chords and overtones. The song’s structure, comprised of unexpected juxtapositions of phrases, also underscores the theme of life’s unpredictability. The song ends with repeated notes played by the trumpet, bassoon and viola, suggesting a bell tolling.

Becoming a Redwood is the longest song in the cycle and woven throughout are melodic elements from the other songs. A few examples of word painting used are the opening accompaniment expanding in range to illuminate "sounds start up again"; the quick setting of "crickets" to mirror the sound of the word itself; and the sudden harmonic shifts under the word “change” to further underscore its meaning. Using motifs from all the songs serves to unify the cycle. At the end the repeated note motif from Curriculum Vitae denotes that healing is possible with the passage of time.

This orchestral version was originally created in 2004, but revised substantially in 2020 and then again in the fall of 2022, as I finally mentally broke free of the constraints of the original piano vocal version. New lines and new harmonies were added, with the goal of adding to the interpretation of the words. The premiere of this orchestral version took place in Santa Rosa, CA on February 4, 2023 with tenor Chad Somers and conductor Norman Gamboa leading The Sonoma County Philharmonic.

Please email me at yale75@aya.yale.edu for parts information.

IF YOU REQUIRE ADDITIONAL SCORES, please email me at lori@artsongs.com for special pricing.

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Sheet music file
150.00 USD
PDF, 45.11 Mb (55 p.)


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