Separation in Death is a piece based on and set to Emily Dickinson’s “Astra Castra”. This piece explorers the ethereal yet dreadful nature of the text, and paints a picture to accompany the words. It starts with a dramatic, slow piano intro, and then introduces a chromatic motive that is present throughout the piece in different ways. The piece builds and speeds up, only to then hit the breaks coming into the final section, where the tonality of the piece expands and changes increasingly, yet smoothly into a mysterious-sounding ending.
Below is the text of “Astra Castra”:
Departed to the judgment,
A mighty afternoon;
Great clouds like ushers leaning,
Creation looking on.
The flesh surrendered, cancelled,
The bodiless begun;
Two worlds, like audiences, disperse
And leave the soul alone
Scored for Mezzo-Soprano Voice and Piano.