You Cannot Fold a Flood
You Cannot Fold a Flood was commissioned by PercusSing soprano and marimba duo, Ana Beard Fernandez and Zoë Craven, for the York Spring Festival of New Music 2015. You Cannot Fold a Flood is a setting of five Emily Dickinson poems taken from Nature, Love and Time and Eternity. I am attracted to Emily Dickinson’s work as it liberates my imagination at the same time as leaving me ungrounded and magically disarmed. The
speakers in Dickinson’s poetry, like those in Brontë’s and Browning’s works, are sharp-sighted observers who see the inescapable limitations of their societies as well as their imagined and imaginable escapes. Her capacity to experiment with expression, in order to free it from conventional restraints, has been influential in my setting
of these five texts.
1. PINK, SMALL, AND PUNCTUAL – 1332
Pink, small, and punctual.
Covert in April,
Dear to the moss,
Known to the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.
Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with these,
2. DEPARTED TO THE JUDGMENT – 524
Departed to the judgment,
A mighty afternoon;
Great clouds like ushers leaning, Creation looking on.
The flesh surrendered, cancelled, The bodiless begun;
Two worlds, like audiences, disperse And leave the soul alone.
3. I FELT A CLEAVING IN MY MIND – 937
I felt a cleaving in my mind
As if my brain had split;
I tried to match it, seam by seam, But could not make them fit.
The thought behind I strove to join Unto the thought before,
But sequence ravelled out of reach Like balls upon a floor.
4. YOU CANNOT PUT A FIRE OUT – 530
You cannot put a fire out;
A thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a fan
Upon the slowest night.
You cannot fold a flood
And put it in a drawer,-
Because the Winds would find it out, And tell your cedar floor.
5. I’VE SEEN A DYING EYE – 547
I’ve seen a dying eye
Run round and round a room
In search of something, as it seemed, Then cloudier become;
And then, obscure with fog,
And then be soldered down, Without disclosing what it be, ‘Twere blessed to have seen.
Emma-Ruth Richards is a composer much in demand in the UK and overseas, acclaimed for her understanding of both instrumental and vocal writing, earning her a role as a favourite amongst performing musicians and singers. 2017 will see the premieres of new commissions from the London Sinfonietta, the MiN Ensemblet, Norway, and a new work for chamber orchestra for the Britten Sinfonia to be premiered at the Barbican Centre. Also in 2017 will be a showcase of her new opera ‘Traffick’, written with librettist Nic Chalmers; ‘Traffick’ is commissioned and developed with the Nordland Teater, Norway and the Royal Opera House, London, and the Mahogany Opera Group’s Various Stages Festival. 2018 will see a new CD release with Parma Recordings and the New York premiere of ‘Dark Radiance’ at Carnegie Hall. Also in 2018 will be the premiere of a new cello duet for Classical Brit Award winner Guy Johnston and the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year Sheku Kanneh-Mason and American premieres of ‘Hora de la Cerc’ with Camerata Pacifica, California.
Previously, she has been commissioned by Opera North, London Philharmonia, BBCNOW Chamber Players, Håkan Hardenberger, Colin Currie, Nicholas Daniel, Mark Van de Wiel, Paul Silverthorne, Dudok Kwartet, Camerata Pacifica, and The Absolution Saxophone Quartet amongst others. Emma-Ruth’s music has been performed on the international stage, taking her to Hong Kong, Den Haag, Banff, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. She is a Royal Northern Gold Medal composer and has featured in festivals including Aldeburgh, Music of Today, Sounds New Canterbury, Internationaal Kamermuziekfestival Den Haag, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Sound Scotland, Queen’s Belfast, North West, and the St. Magnus Festival.
Emma-Ruth studied at Cardiff University and then at the Royal Northern College of Music, and has since studied with composers such as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Oliver Knussen, and Alexander Goehr and Colin Matthews.