Song of The Open Road (2008)

In 2008 The Open Road was commissioned by the Korzo Theater in the Netherlands. It is a song cycle of fourteen pieces adapting lyrics from a set of poems by Walt Whitman under the title Song of the Open Road. Song, the depiction of poetry, chant or other forms of communication through melody, is the most rudimentary form of musical expression, coming straight from the soul. Having the ability to directly reflect the inner shape, dimension and state of a person, it is a language perhaps more effective than any other form of communication to instigate empathy between people in common experience.

My question as a composer and as a person is what song do I sing? From where does my song originate, where is it going and where will it end? With this song cycle my aim is to discover the essence of my musical language, a form of ‘tabularasa’, clearing the slate to begin a journey of self-discovery. The songs are simple, self- contained statements, each with an individual character with an overall thread through which the entire cycle is connected. The musical material is economical, using minimal resources to portray an idea relying on nothing but the necessary.

Whitman’s poem Song of the Open Road resonated with me. What I found in the poems was a voice encouraging the reader to close the books, to step out, keeping the load light, to find one’s own feet on a journey into the soul in search of Truth, one’s origin and one’s identity.

“Open” suggests that the road has no destination and no finality. “Road” is a metaphor for an ongoing development, physical movement with forward propulsion. “Road” also suggests a well-beaten path that has been tried and tested by countless wayfarers. Therefore “The Open Road” indicates a connection with the ongoing eternal continuity of emerging lives.

There are three reasons why these poems struck me. On one level the poems portray a physical journey where a traveller away from home lives as a restless immigrant in other places. On a metaphysical level the open road indicates a development of the soul reaching beyond worldly expectations in search of reason. The third layer affirms the progression of a maturing artistic voice that becomes confident to sing its own song.

-Kate Moore 2013