A few weeks ago, I got an email from Bruce Benedict:
I am helping a theatre in town with a brand new production going up next may. They are creating a two part adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude, the Obscure. They have given me a stipend to help get all of the music together and since it’s probably more than I can handle myself I thought I would put a shout-out. They want all of the songs to be from Thomas Hardy poems.
Bruce, you had me at “stipend.”
After a little more back and forth about the specifics of the instrumentation and style, I got to work on the two poems he sent. The first song I finished is entitled “In a Cathedral City.” Since the actors will be singing the songs and will also make up the small mixed ensemble accompaniment, I wanted to keep things easy. For this poem I decided that a soloist would carry the bulk of the song, with a four-part vocal/instrumental ensemble interjection at the end of every verse. This song will serve as a transition between the first act, set in the country, and the second act in which Jude strikes out for the city. The soloist (presumably Jude) sings in a modal folk style and the chorus interjections are bigger, more confident and frilly.