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Selected Works

The Angel (from Blake’s Songs of Innocence & of Experience)

On 01, Apr 2024 | In | By Joel Friedman

The Angel (from Blake’s Songs of Innocence & of Experience)

William Blake’s Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience dwells in the realm of nuance, with multiple, even conflicting interpretations. This ambiguity is what attracted me to his poem, The Angel. In the beginning an idealistic young girl, in the glow of wonderment, dreams of being a “maiden queen.” As the poem unfolds, her music moves from chaste pop song simplicity to complexity. Was her Angel over-protective, even misleading? Did the Angel abandon her in her time of need? Did she mislead her Angel? The question whether she needlessly sacrificed her youth and desires leads her to doubt, then anger, but also independence. Aware, and armed with gray-haired wisdom, she has no need of an Angel. After an intense instrumental interlude, the opening simple drum groove returns and then is embedded in the pitched instruments, creating a faint funereal echo. The song’s rueful weariness is disrupted by a last rush of unresolved sound, which hangs questioning in the air. I’m proud to take part in this joint student-faculty composition project designed by Dr. Stephen Gorbos. I’d also like thank my performers Balance Campaign, and mezzo-soprano Carolyn Shaffer. You can hear the premiere performance (4/24/24) here or view it here: