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Sonnets and Interludes (2015)

for Mezzo-Soprano, Oboe, and Harp

Texts by Rainer Maria Rilke

from Sonette an Orpheus (Sonnets to Orpheus)

(set in the original German)

Made possible through a grant from the Urbana, Illinois council for the arts.  

Dedicated to oboist Karisa Antonio and harpist Claire Happel-Ashe

The work is in nine parts.  Movements for oboe and harp alone alternate with movements for voice, oboe, and harp.

Emily Alcorn, mezzo-soprano

Karisa Antonio, oboe

Claire Happel-Ashe, harp

Vocal Texts



Rainer Maria Rilke, Die Sonette an Orpheus (1922) 

public domain


II, 12


Wolle die Wandlung. O sei für die Flamme begeistert,

drin sich ein Ding dir entzieht, das mit Verwandlungen prunkt;

jener entwerfende Geist, welcher das Irdische meistert,

liebt in dem Schwung der Figur nichts wie den wendenden Punkt.


Was sich ins Bleiben verschließt, schon ists das Erstarrte;

wähnt es sich sicher im Schutz des unscheinbaren Grau’s?

Warte, ein Härtestes warnt aus der Ferne das Harte.

Wehe –: abwesender Hammer holt aus!



II, 12


Desire the transformation. O delight at the flame, 

within which something escapes you, resplendent with metamorphoses; 

that conceiving spirit, which masters the earthly, 

loves nothing in the power of the form as much as the turning point.


What shuts itself in lingering is already adamant; 

Does it consider itself to be safe in the protection of the nondescript greyness? 

Wait, from afar hardest warns the hard. 

Alas-: absent hammer rises!


Translated by Aidan Holding

Used by permission

II, 13


Sei allem Abschied voran, als wäre er hinter

dir, wie der Winter, der eben geht.

Denn unter Wintern ist einer so endlos Winter,

daß, überwinternd, dein Herz überhaupt übersteht.


Sei immer tot in Eurydike –, singender steige,

preisender steige zurück in den reinen Bezug.

Hier, unter Schwindenden, sei, im Reiche der Neige,

sei ein klingendes Glas, das sich im Klang schon zerschlug.



II, 13


Be ahead of every farewell as though it were behind 

you, like the winter that is ending now. 

For among winters there is a kind of endless winter 

that your heart can only weather in wintering.


Be forever dead in Eurydice-, rise more harmoniously, 

rise more eulogistically back into the pure connection. 

Here, among waning ones, be [in the realm of remains] 

be a sounding glass that in ringing out has already shattered.


Translated by Aidan Holding

Used by permission

score samples

Fisk - Sonnets and Interludes (Excerpts)
00:00 / 03:07
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