Chicago Songs has been an intermittent labor of love for at least five years. The poetry of Carl Sandburg, specifically his Chicago Poems of 1914, has been a source of inspiration to me ever since I moved to the city in 2007. I am struck by how little has changed in over 100 years. Chicago is just as much an exhilarating and heartbreaking place now as it was in Sandburg’s day.
The full work is intended to have about six songs for “medium voice” with a total of about thirty minutes of music. Most of the songs will work for any voice type from baritone to soprano. The complete cycle will work as a whole, but individual songs can be excerpted. Indeed, most of the cycle has already been premiered as individual songs or small sets.
Unfortunately, as a labor of love the final score of the complete set never had a deadline, and has been a bit delayed, especially when commissioned projects come up. The complete set should be available soon – in the meantime, take a listen to this commercial recording of one of the songs, Anna Imroth.
Cross the hands over the breast here—so.
Straighten the legs a little more—so.
And call for the wagon to come and take her home.
Her mother will cry some and so will her sisters and brothers.
But all of the others got down and they are safe and this is the only one of the factory girls who wasn’t lucky in making the jump when the fire broke.
It is the hand of God and the lack of fire escapes