Lilacs (1999) is based on “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, an elegy written by Walt Whitman upon the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. I have faithfully (if arbitrarily) transposed the poetry’s prosody and inflections into rhythmic and melodic counterparts, and its structure into a musical narrative, while trying to project Whitman’s extravagant, high-romantic funeral wailing. The result is a kind of program music from an unknown galaxy somewhere in the 19th century: Mendelssohn or Mussorgsky it isn’t; but if it ever met them, they’d probably get along.

Lilacs was commissioned through The Laidlaw Foundation by Eve Egoyan, to whom it is dedicated.