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Richard B. Evans

Evans began composing ART SONGS while still a student at Oberlin College Conservatory.  Inspired by the great repertoire of Schubert, Schumann, Faure, Wolf, Ives, and Barber, his first set of songs was based on poems of e.e. cummings.  Although these songs were widely performed, Evans was unable to get musical rights to the poems from cummings’ publisher.  Learning this lesson quickly, his next art songs were settings of poems by Victor Hugo.

One of Evans' favorite poets is William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), many of whose poems Evans has set to music in ways that honor Yeats’ marvelous images, vocabulary and structures, and also bring fresh musical, lyrical insights to these iconic poems. A 30-minute program entitled "IN THE DEEP HEART'S CORE, A Song Cycle of Ten Poems by William Butler Yeats" composed by Evans is excerpted below. Several songs were composed for tenor Dennis McNeil.

His Italian art song collection "CANZONI d'AMORE," commissioned by the Zabavicka Foundation and premiered in Italy, are settings of four love poems by Rocco Ruggiero and Franco Pascale, also excerpted below.


Excerpts from Evans'
A Song Cycle of Ten Poems by William Butler Yeats

(first 4 lines of each printed here for reference)

The Lake Isle of Inishfree (1893)
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade….

Song of the Wandering Aengus (1899)
I went out to the hazel wood, 
Because a fire was in my head, 
And cut and peeled a hazel wand 
And hooked a berry to a thread….

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven (1899)
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light….

The Fiddler of Dooney (1899)
When I play on my fiddle in Dooney
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee….

A Cradle Song (1893)
The angels are bending
Above your white bed;
They weary of tending
The souls of the dead….

When You Are Old and Grey (1893)
When you are old and grey and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep….



Commissioned by the Zabavicka Foundation and premiered in Italy, Evans’ four Canzoni d’Amore are settings of love poems by Rocco Ruggiero and Franco Pascale.


1.  Che Bella Sera (Sung in Italian, English translation)


My heart sings Che Bella Sera (What a beautiful evening)
Because you are so very close to me.
My heart sings Che Bella Sera,
I always, always want to sing like this.
And when I sing Che Bella Sera
I hope that you will sing with me.
This air so sweet
Craves your voice,
Sing, sing along with me --

Che Bella Sera makes me sing     
How beautiful this is.    
I would like to sing like this for all my life    
I want to always sing like this --     
Perhaps already I sense the sound of your heart,  
The sound that sings of love.   
Sing like this always, my darling, like this,       
Sing along with me like this always.    

© 1999 Seacastle Music Co., All Rights Reserved


2.  Fiamme Mattutine  (Sung in Italian, English translation)

Encircled by ancient trees, the dawn lifted us.
In the cool flames of the morning’s light
We recognized who we are to one another.

Instantly the world appeared remade, as though created anew.
In your luminous eyes
Were reflected moments of our destiny.

It was our moment of poetry,
Our moment which glorifies all that is to come to us.

© 1999 Seacastle Music Co., All Rights Reserved


3.  Onde d’Amore (Sung in Italian, English translation)


O sweetest darling, come, darling,
Float on the waves of love.
Poetry seeks our rhymes,
Come, my darling, come with me!
Accompany me into the future like this,
Accompany me there, Beautiful one.


La la la la la la la la la la la, We will find an island of love.
Eternal poetry, we will go to our secret place of love.
To our island of love, O boat, take us there!
La la la la la la la la la la la, Trust in the waves of love.

© 1999 Seacastle Music Co., All Rights Reserved


4.  Al Tramonto (Sung in Italian, English translation)

That day the woods seemed to belong to us.
At sunset we were embraced by the lingering shadows of trees.        
The last gleam of light was heavy on the air.
There I felt you, felt your caress
Your song -- your love.


It seemed a vision of eternity
That did not want to leave,
That would never return again,
But that would never end,
Nor ever return again.

Notwithstanding that it was sunset,
It was dawn . . . dawn for me . . . dawn for us!


© 1999 Seacastle Music Co.,  All rights reserved. 

© 2008-2023, Richard B. Evans   |  All contents of this website © (p) Richard Bunger Evans and Seacastle Music Company