The second, and final unless he asks nicely, of the songs that I wrote for Bruce Benedict’s production of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure is called “Evelyn G of Christminster.”
I have to admit right up front that I’m not a huge fan of old English. Don’t get me wrong, I took a Shakespeare class in college, get an almost weekly dose of thees and thous through hymnody, and even went to the Stratford festival on my honeymoon. But poetry with phrases like “your swift remove” is generally something I feel that I’m supposed to like, rather than actually do. But once I got working on the music of Evelyn G I found myself drawn into this beautifully wistful text. I hope I’ve done it justice.
The text was quite hard to set to music because each verse’s rhyme scheme is slightly different. I decided to set a very simple harmonic and melodic pattern that could adapt to each verse. This was good for the song, and a good exercise for me as a composer. I have a tendency to rush to complexity simply because I can. The restraint of sticking with i, iv, V (and a little splash of VI, III and VII) was refreshingly direct. See/hear for yourself.