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A Live Streaming Event

Butterfly Days: Recent Chamber Music by Michael Murray

November 12, 2020 8:30 PM EST

Join us for a live streaming concert of recent chamber music by composer Michael Murray from C Minor Recital Hall on the campus of Missouri State University. The program will include the world premiere of Butterfly Days (2020) for mezzo-soprano and piano, The Darkening Green (2018) for string quartet, and Genevieve’s Cats (2017) for soprano and piano.



Michael Murray

Michael Murray-composerReviewers have described composer Michael Murray as “a contemporary craftsman-artist of original stripe” (Gappelgate), and “a master at writing for the human voice” (Music & Vision), whose music is “easy to listen to in the best possible way.” Murray’s compositions have been performed and recorded across the United States, as well as in Cuba, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Recent appearances include the 2019 College Music Society National Conference, 28th Annual Havana Contemporary Music Festival, 2017 TUTTI Festival, and New Music on the Bayou 2017 Festival.

In addition to works for the concert hall, he has written music for film, theater productions, dance, and visual arts installations. His music is featured on the Navona and Ansonica record labels, and is published by Ars Nova Press. He lives in Springfield, Missouri, where he is Professor of Music at Missouri State University.

Murray is a Hambidge Fellow and has also been artist in residence at Osage Arts Community. He has won awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Pi Kappa Lambda, and the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs. Among his commissions are those from the Missouri Chamber Players and the music fraternities of Missouri State University. He earned a BM in composition from the Catholic University of America and his MM and DMA in composition from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Prior to coming to MSU, he taught at Loyola University New Orleans and Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

michaelmurraymusic.com | Facebook


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Program Notes and Song Texts

Poems from New Hampshire by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

1. Blue-Butterfly Day

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

2. Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter

The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.

In summer when I passed the place,
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.

No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.

From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn’t show.

A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.

3. Misgiving

All crying, “We will go with you, O Wind!”
The foliage follow him, leaf and stem;
But a sleep oppresses them as they go,
And they end by bidding him stay with them.

Since ever they flung abroad in spring
The leaves had promised themselves this flight,
Who now would fain seek sheltering wall,
Or thicket, or hollow place for the night.

And now they answer his summoning blast
With an ever vaguer and vaguer stir,
Or at utmost a little reluctant whirl
That drops them no further than where they were.

I only hope that when I am free,
As they are free, to go in quest
Of the knowledge beyond the bounds of life
It may not seem better to me to rest.

4. To Earthward

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of – was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they’re gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.

The Darkening Green for string quartet is a 7.5-minute, single-movement piece, written in the summer of 2018. The title is a reference to the final line of William Blake’s poem “The Ecchoing Green” from his Songs of Innocence (1789). The poem describes children at play, who then grow tired as the day passes and the sun goes down. The children’s play is observed by “the old folk,” who consider their own youth and the passage of years rather than hours. The music is not intended to be a literal interpretation of the poetry, but instead reflects the theme of differing perceptions of the passage of time on small and large scales. The creation of this piece was made possible through the generous support of the Osage Arts Community residency program located in Belle, Missouri.

(from “The Kitten and the Falling Leaves”)
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

See the kitten on the wall,
Sporting with the leaves that fall,
Withered leaves–one–two–and three–
From the lofty elder-tree!
Through the calm and frosty air
Of this morning bright and fair . . .
—But the kitten, how she starts;
Crouches, stretches, paws, and darts!

First at one, and then its fellow
Just as light and just as yellow;
There are many now–now one–
Now they stop and there are none.
What intenseness of desire
In her upward eye of fire!
With a tiger-leap half way
Now she meets the coming prey,
Lets it go as fast, and then
Has it in her power again:
Now she works with three or four,
Like an Indian conjuror;
Quick as he in feats of art,
Far beyond in joy of heart.

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

THE CAT went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

John Keats (1795–1821)

Cat! who hast passed thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroyed? How many tit-bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green, and prick
Those velvet ears – but prithee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me, and up-raise
Thy gentle mew, and tell me all thy frays
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists –
For all thy wheezy asthma, and for all
Thy tail’s tip is nicked off, and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is that fur as soft as when the lists
In youth thou enteredst on glass-bottled wall.

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