It perched for Vespers nine
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III, all divisi a&b
Bb Bass Clarinet
Alto Saxophone I-II
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:
- Bass Drum
- Cymbal (large suspended, 2)
- Snare Drum
- Tom-Toms (3)
None discovered thus far.
My wife’s grandfather was an extraordinary man. He was an immigrant who walked around quoting poetry and whistling tunes from his childhood in Scotland. Like a character from a movie, he always seemed to pull just the right verse for the occasion.
In the spring of 2007, he fell into a coma following a severe stroke. After weeks of being in this state, he woke and said:
In mist or cloud…
…On mast or shroud
It Perched for Vespers nine.
Whiles all the night…
…Through fog-smoke white
Glimmered the white moon-shine.
These were the final words of a man who always chose the right words. Within the hour he was gone.
Not recognizing the verse, I immediately ran to Google to decipher what message the old man could have been delivering.
The verse is from the famous poem of condemnation and redemption,The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The poem is the story of a mariner condemned to travel the earth telling his tale of hubris and punishment in search of redemption. The mariner shot an albatross for no other reason than he felt like it and then suffered the wrath of both death and living-death for his gall.
The verse my wife’s grandfather quoted is the verse immediately before the one containing the ill-fated murder of the albatross: as they say, the calm before the coming storm.
My work entitled It perched for Vespers nine on a surface level engages the imagery from the verse itself. But at the emotional core of the work is my trying to work out what my wife’s Pop Pop might have been trying to tell us about what awaits us “in mist or cloud.”
It perched for Vespers nine was commissioned by the American Bandmasters Association and the University of Florida. The work was premiered by the Michigan State Wind Ensemble with Matt Smith conducting, and the East Coast premiere was given by the University of Florida Wind Ensemble with David Waybright conducting.
- Program notes by Joel Puckett
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Concert Band (Courtney Snyder, conductor) – 2 October 2019
- Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Eric Allen, conductor) – 1 May 2018
- Messiah College (Mechanicsburg, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (James Colonna, conductor) - 3 November 2017
- University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble (Emily Threinen, conductor) – 20 October 2017
- Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Peabody Wind Ensemble (Harland D. Parker, conductor) – 5 October 2017
- University of Michigan Concert Band (Courtney Snyder, conductor) - 24 November 2014
- California State Long Beach Wind Symphony (John Carnahan, conductor) - 11 October 2012
- Utah Valley University Wind Symphony [CBDNA Conference, Reno] (James Colonna, conductor) - March 2012
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Asimov's Aviary (2012)
- Avelynn's Lullaby (2011)
- Blink! (2006)
- Emory's Barcarolle (2015)
- 15th Night of the Moon (2014)
- it perched for Vespers nine (2008)
- Knells for Bonnie (2016)
- My Eyes Are Full of Shadow (2016)
- Piece for Solo Flute and Chamber Winds (2015)
- Ping, Pang, Pong
- The Shadow of Sirius (2009)
- Ship of Theseus (2015)
- Short Stories (2012)
- Southern Comforts (2008)
- that secret from the river (2016)
- Vespers page at Joel Puckett's website
- Puckett, J. (2008). It perched for vespers nine [score]. Bill Holab Music: [Brooklyn, NY].