I have composed songs to ten of my favorite poems written by Shakespeare, Yeats, Frost, Keats, Wordsworth, Berry, and Bel-Moore. This project is very close to my heart because I have loved poetry all my life. I find that it takes me into worlds that often lie submerged below the surface of my normal waking life. Poems give expression to the unexpressed in me and the poets have become my dear friends.
When I thought about composing music to these poems, I felt a great responsibility to honor them. When I started writing the music, I began with how the poem made me feel. It was like creating a painting that “looked” how the poem felt to me. I wanted to set a mood, creating a tonal palette for the words.
I write my songs on the piano, which is the instrument that I know the best. While composing it works best if I just allow the melody to come to me. It’s a very spiritual experience. I was so fortunate to be able to hand my compositions to Jamshied Sharifi for the orchestral arrangements and production. He is not only a brilliant musician, but he also felt the same obligation that I did, to honor the poets and their muses. Poetry opens a space in my heart and takes me to a place that is familiar but not often shared. I can’t wait to share What We Need is Here with you.