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Selected Works

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

On 01, Apr 2024 | In | By Joel Friedman

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

William Blake’s poetry dwells in the realm of nuance with multiple, even conflicting interpretations. I chose his poem The Angel from the Songs Of Experience portion of his work knowing I would be writing for a musical theater singer. In the beginning an idealistic young girl is in the glow of wonderment as she dreams of being a “maiden queen.” From that chaste pop song simplicity, the character experiences life’s challenges and complexity. Was her Angel over-protective, even misleading? Did the Angel abandon her in her time of need? Was she misleading her Angel? The question of whether she sacrificed her youth, desires, and freedom leads to further complexity—anger, yet independence—as she matures. The song ends in stark world-weariness. The drum part that had been light and innocent returns as an incomplete, faint funereal echo of the song’s opening. For better, and worse, we’ve traced a path from innocence to experience. This William Blake project was the brainchild of composer Stephen Gorbos. He designed it for our whole composition department—students and faculty alike—at Catholic University. I am very proud to have joined!