Klar Bäck (2022) three-song cycle for voice, harp, and frame drum by Beige Cowell with text by American Poet E. F. Hayward (1866-1927). ca. 6 minutes.
I. Back to Nature
III. We Must Leave Them Behind
Klar bäck, or Clear Creek in English, is named after the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center in Denton, TX. The area is a beautiful nature reserve with a prairie of native wildflowers, a small wetland, trails, and the Clear Creek itself. I was moved by the poetry of E. F. Hayward in his collection Poems from the North Woods, so I set three poems for this song cycle.
The connection to nature that Hayward writes about, is both a very human and very magical thing. It’s a sentiment at the core of the ancient Swedish practice of kulning, a feminine style of singing or herding call. I have leaned into kulning for several aspects of this piece, but in Unafraid, which is a quick but reluctant acceptance of Death, I find a spiritual dwelling that can only be expressed through the haunting, piercing, and melismatic cry of kulning.