The Snow, Like Me

Music by Kevin Laskey, et al.
Words by Jill Osier, et al.


The Order of Things

I. Prelude

II. Refuge

            text by Jill Osier

III. In Winter Cold

            based on music by William Byrd, text by Jill Osier

IV. You Know It as Spring

            text by Jill Osier

V. Sweeter than Crystal Tears

            based on music by Henry Purcell & John Dowland

VI. Like a Great Sadness, the Tide

            text by Jill Osier

VII. Requiem/Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde

            text by Jill Osier

VIII. Come Again (and Again and Again)

            based on music by John Dowland

IX. Evening Hymn

            based on music by Henry Purcell


The Band

Molly Netter, soprano
Mikael Darmanie, piano
Eleonore Oppenheim, bass
Kevin Laskey, drums & electronics


The Program Note

In 2003, Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the term solastalgia, which he describes as a homesickness you have when you are still at home. The feeling is driven by changes in the environment, whether fast acting natural disasters or slow-moving climate change.

Like most of you reading this in 2021, I have spent much of the past 20 months at home in a changing environment. And like many of you, I have sought to soothe my anxieties in nature, particularly on long walks with my wife Julia and dog Shosti. Sometimes, a brilliant sunset or a bald eagle sighting would take me out of myself. Other times, my mind would drift to thinking about the ultimate fragility of my home, and what will happen to it over the coming years.

The Snow, Like Me is an exploration of this feeling of solastalgia. In the poetry of Jill Osier and in the songs of 16th/17th century composers William Byrd, John Dowland, and Henry Purcell, nature is a metaphor, a means of understanding our emotions. Tears are rain, kisses are a breeze, leaves are love, winter is a friend. The natural world is both outside and inside of us. In this way, solastalgia isn’t just climate anxiety, but losing the ability to steady ourselves emotionally.

Musically, this feeling plays out as a series of dissociative episodes. Textures are washed out. Contrasting styles butt up against each other uncomfortably. Environmental sounds become uncannily tonal. Whole tunes are cut up and misaligned. Earnest confessionals are cut through with bitter irony. But maybe, in that moment the falling light hits the stream just right to make the water dance pink, there is just enough hope to keep working for another day.


The Words

II. Refuge

I’ll tell you this: I am the only part of winter left.
It beckoned and I followed, past all reason,
followed it like the end of a broken train
through white woods, and I stayed, with simple tools,
set on trying to construct more of a season. It has taken
all of me to do it, and you would not believe the storms.
You would not believe how I sleep. From here anything
would sound like a cry. Everything looks like pieces of God.

III. In Winter Cold

In winter cold when tree and bush was bare,
And frost had nipped the roots of tender grass,

Winter, friend, I get it. We are having a long talk 
and have just gotten into the thick of it.  

The ants, with joy did feed upon their fare,

Days ago the signs were there.  
I was the only thing dark and moving 

through the white woods,

Which they had stored, while summer season was,

and my leg kept leaving me
small grey commas of ice seen coming back.  

To whom for food a grasshopper did cry,
And said she starved if they did help deny,

This is a very long talk we’ve been having. My body already knew 
and began to make an important list.

IV. You Know It as Spring

These are the standing-water
weeks. Sliding gray skies
stall, and puddles lie more dull
for looking up. Lakes
shudder below gusts and stick out
their many chins. They cannot
be budged. All the world wants
is to be like winter
promised, but mortal
are the seasons, too. You are
tall, so tall, so
maybe you’ve never left
your body like this, standing in water
rising, the face islanded.

V. Sweeter Than Crystal Tears

Sweeter than roses, or cool evening breeze
On a warm flowery shore, was the dear

crystal tears, like to the morning show’rs
And sweetly weep into thy lady’s breast
And as the dews revive the drooping flow’rs
So let your drops of pity be

shot like fire all o’er

To quicken up the thoughts of my desert
Which sleeps too sound whilst I from her depart
Haste restless sighs, and let your burning breath

be shot like fire all o’er

through her indurate heart

Whose

trembling made me freeze,

like forgetful

magic has victorious love!
For all I touch or see since that dear

crystal tears, like to the morning show’rs

I hourly prove, all is

            sighs and tears

all is

            sacrifice

all is

            death

Love is

            death

The breeze revives the spotless roses of her indurate desert.
Trembling fire made the crystal shores freeze like victorious death.
From a sweeter heart, restless sighs and patient eyes haste forgetful love all o’er.
The morning showers, shot.

VI. Like a Great Sadness, The Tide

Not that we could forget –
though days we lay about
and talked of nothing but water,
water, water, as if not broken
some the first time moon
and sea conspired, swept us
from arms we knew, left us,
and in their lifelong bond
met again and again. And are
we jealous? Yes.

VII. Requiem/Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde

Across the street, two boys begin to bury
a girl in leaves. Kneeling at her side
they show her how to cover her face – don’t
forget to breathe,
 I imagine they tell her,
when what they really should say is, Try
to remember the smell of sun through it all. It’s
a rare courtship.
 I watch her help,
gathering the leaves to her like love,
hiding herself. No matter how many, it’s
the same heavy. One leaf will find its way
beneath her shirt, another will tickle her lip.
What she’ll hear is almost like breathing,
and it must be the leaves. Sounds beyond love,
sounds beyond love… Remember, I would tell her,
there are such things.

VIII. Come Again (and Again and Again)

Come again!
Sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces that refrain
To do me due delight,
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die,
With thee again in sweetest sympathy.

Come again!
That I may cease to mourn
Through thy unkind disdain;
For now left and forlorn
I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die
In deadly pain and endless misery.

All the day
The sun that lends me shine
By frowns do cause me pine
And feeds me with delay;
Her smiles, my springs that makes my joys to grow,
Her frowns the Winters of my woe.

All the night
My sleeps are full of dreams,
My eyes are full of streams.
My heart takes no delight
To see the fruits and joys that some do find
And mark the storms are me assign’d.

Out alas,
My faith is ever true,
Yet will she never rue
Nor yield me any grace;
Her eyes of fire, her heart of flint is made,
Whom tears nor truth may once invade.

Gentle Love,
Draw forth thy wounding dart,
Thou canst not pierce her heart;
For I, that do approve
By sighs and tears more hot than are thy shafts
Did tempt while she for triumph laughs.

IX. Evening Hymn

Now that the Sun hath veil’d his Light,
And bid the World good Night;
To the soft Bed, my Body I dispose,
But where shall my Soul repose?
Dear God, even in Thy Arms, and can there be
Any so sweet Security!
Then to thy Rest, O my Soul! And singing, praise
The Mercy that prolongs thy Days.
Hallelujah!


The Bios

Kevin Laskey is a composer, percussionist, and writer based in New York City. His music lives in a netherworld between highly-notated concert music and vernacular styles, drawing from classical, jazz, and American folk idioms alike. Kevin has written for a number of acclaimed performers including PRISM Quartet, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Yarn/Wire, Bearthoven, Warp Trio, Variant 6, pianist Amy Williams, and trombonist Ray Anderson.

Kevin is the editor of Jazz Speaks, the official blog of The Jazz Gallery in New York, and has contributed writings on music to NPR and Music & Literature. He holds a PhD in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania and teaches music at Ursinus College and New York University.


A versatile and joyous musician, Canadian-American soprano Molly Netter enlivens complex and beautiful music, both old and new, with “a natural warmth” (LA Times) and “clear, beautiful tone and vivacious personality” (NY Times). She can be heard on five GRAMMY-nominated albums since 2017 and has performed as a soloist with ensembles such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, the Boston Early Music Festival, Apollo’s Fire, Musica Angelica, Contemporaneous, Juilliard415, Heartbeat Opera, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. She has been a full-time member of the Choir at Trinity Wall Street since 2015.

Molly is an active performer, curator, educator and advocate of new music, regularly commissioning new works by living composers. Recent collaborators include David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Amy Beth Kirsten, Doug Balliett, Katherine Balch, Molly Joyce, and Jessica Meyer, among others. Notable chamber performance highlights include inaugural casts of Pulitzer-winning operas Angels Bone (Du Yun, 2015) and PRISM (Ellen Reid, 2017).

Molly holds a BM in composition and contemporary voice from Oberlin Conservatory and an MM in early music voice from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. She is currently on voice faculty at the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute.


As a soloist, pianist Mikael Darmanie has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, Russia and the Caribbean. Recent festival appearances have included: The Weil Institute at Carnegie, Trinity Wall Street, Prototype, Bang on a Can Marathon, Close Encounters With Music, Berkshire High Peaks Festival, Cape Cod Symphony Nth Degree, Pianofest in the Hamptons, the Mozarteum, Mainly Mozart, and L’Acadèmie de Musique de Sion.

As a member of the Warp Trio, he performs in genres ranging from jazz to hip-hop, rock, fusion and electronic music. He DJs and teaches masterclasses and workshops to students of all levels, kindergarten through university. Since his debut as a conductor with the Carolina Chamber Symphony in 2008, he has performed throughout the U.S., conducting various piano concerti from the keyboard and symphonic works. Also a composer, his works have been performed throughout the U.S. and Europe. He is currently pursuing his D.M.A. at SUNY Stony Brook under the guidance of Gilbert Kalish.


“Quietly virtuosic” (Alan Kozinn, the New York Times) double bassist and electric bassist Eleonore Oppenheim has a reputation as both a valued ensemble player and an engaging soloist. Her “…subtle expressivity” and “…particular eloquence” (Joshua Kosman, the San Francisco Chronicle) have made her a worthy collaborator for composers of her generation, and through these relationships she has built a rich repertoire of solo pieces. Eleonore has performed and recorded with a variety of different artists and groups, among them the Philip Glass Ensemble, Tyondai Braxton, Bang on a Can, Wordless Music Orchestra, Meredith Monk, My Brightest Diamond, Signal Ensemble, Steve Reich, Jonny Greenwood, and the “All-star, all-female quintet” (Time Out New York) Victoire, of which she is a member.  


Jill Osier’s first full-length book of poems, The Solace Is Not the Lullaby, was selected by Carl Phillips for the 2019 Yale Younger Poets Prize and received the 2020 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. She is also the author of the chapbooks from (Bull City Press, 2018), Should Our Undoing Come Down Upon Us White (Bull City Press, 2013), winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Competition, and Bedful of Nebraskas (sunnyoutside, 2012). Honors for her work include the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.