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Innisfree (2022)


For choir (SATB), brass quintet and organ

Text: Innisfree by William Butler Yeats

Duration: 11 minutes

In this poem of W.B. Yeats, the location of Innisfree symbolises absolute tranquility and beauty, apart from the raucous sounds and chaos of civilization.

It is this same sense of escape from a place of torment and rigidity, into the freedom and bliss of nature which I wanted to convey through this setting.


Following a harsh, foreboding brass and organ introduction – calling to mind the harsh industrial world which Yeats yearns to escape from in the 1888 poem – a persona-like voice, projected through a solo tenor, declares ‘I will arise and go now,’ answered by increasingly ornamented, twisting lines in the choir ‘and go to Innisfree.’ Following this, I attempt to sonically build an Innisfree, with gentle lapping water evoked by a series of canons in the sopranos and altos, whilst birds and insects slowly spring to life in rapid organ figures.


The work concludes with a prayer-like, a cappella resolution in the choir, that ‘always night and day ... I hear it in the deep heart’s core.’ This same notion that memories of peace and tranquility can sustain one through hardship is central to the poem, and the piece, as the final strain of birdsong fades in the organ.

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