Song of the Week: “An Exaltation of Larks” (Opening Excerpt) by Jennifer Higdon

Artists often struggle to explore the possibilities of form without obliterating the old rules and trying to start over on new ground.  In music, “new ground” tends to mean either a veneer of distortion that renders predictable constructs temporarily strange, or the music unhinges in pure experimentation, which tends to define form as a rigid circumstance rather than revealing its possibilities.  I want music that sounds out the near-infinite possibilities of structure.  For most of my life, classical music exposure has been limited to dead composers.  Two years ago, my wife took a public radio job producing a classical music show, “Of Note with Katy Henriksen,” where I first heard Jennifer Higdon.  Her compositions resemble music I have heard but also maintain an ever-present newness.  “An Exaltation of Larks” presents an atmosphere of recognizable structures that slant, as Emily Dickinson might say, without distorting the form, and within those structures she creates room for individual players to discover unexpected lyrical directions that make art seem automatic and infinite.

-Matthew Henriksen

Matthew Henriksen’s first book, Ordinary Sun, appeared on Black Ocean in 2011.  Recent poems appear in The Cultural Society, Toad Suck Review, Apartment, Yalobusha Review, Mandorla, Bestoned: The New Metaphysik, and Bright Pink Mosquito.  He is also the he editor of “Another Part of the Flood: Poems, Stories, and Correspondence of Frank Stanford,” which appeared in Fulcrum #7.  He co-edits the online poetry journal Typo, sporadically publishes Cannibal, a hand-bound literary journal, and runs The Burning Chair Readings.  He currently lives in the Arkansas Ozarks and works at the Dickson Street Bookshop.

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