There is a lot to love about Edie Hill’s gorgeous colors in “The Giver of Stars,” but if you don’t necessarily know what to listen for, you might miss out on some of the clever ways Edie paints the text in the piano part.
The piano takes on different roles in each song, sometimes depicting the outdoors, the emotions of the singer, or specific images.
The opening glissando imitates the rocket taking off and gives the impression that the song is starting in the middle of things, right after their initial meeting:
The repeated pattern of sixteenth notes and unchanging harmony makes the music feel suspended, like the flowering of a firework hanging in the air. Then Edie indicates for the pedal to hold the colors as the piano stops and the singer stands “gaping.” The playout illustrates the falling stars as the remains of the rocket fall back to Earth.
II. Flame Apples
The joyful staccato pattern in the piano represents the “little, hot apples of fire” bursting out of the singers’ heart.
The pattern changes beautifully while the singer reflects upon her lover. As the poetry becomes more introspective on the second page, the piano slows to a delicate, thinner texture.
III. Vernal Equinox
One of my favorite things about this song is how it looks:
In the opening, the piano imitates the outdoors--at first, a thin mist. Then it starts to rain, and Edie indicates that the notes should “become a bit more agitated.” Eventually, the texture calms down a little, fading more into the background as the speaker turns further inward.
IV. The Giver of Stars
In this song, I think the sparkling piano pattern represents the spirit of the poet’s lover as it “bathes her with its clear and rippled coolness.” Then on the third page, Edie gorgeously captures “flickering flames” in the piano tremolos and imitates a violin underneath “tightly strung and in tune.”
V. Autumnal Equinox
Edie indicates in the score, “steadily, like breathing.” It is a little unclear who the breathing belongs to: is it the speaker, the speaker’s partner “from the room above,” or a combination of the two?
On the second page, the breathing pattern stops as the speaker strains to listen for her partner’s “regular breathing.” When the breathing resumes, does it belong to the speaker? You can decide for yourself or remain undecided like us!
VI. A Sprig Of Rosemary
Although no “sprigs of rosemary” are mentioned in the poem itself, rosemary has been a symbol of remembrance and constancy since ancient times. In Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a sprig of rosemary was placed on Juliet’s grave.
This seems to indicate that the poet’s lover has died, and it sounds to me like the opening piano notes are depicting the struggle to recall their memory. The poet is reminiscing about her partner, and the short phrases mimic how quickly one memory can move to the next.
Once again, the piano eloquently captures images of sitting, resting on the window, and even echoes the voice phrases, as the singer is lost in memory.
About Carson Rose Schneider
Dr. Carson Rose Schneider is a versatile pianist who works as a duo partner, coach, music director, and rehearsal pianist with opera companies, chamber groups, and choirs. Her performing career has taken her around the United States and abroad. Based in the Twin Cities Metro Area, she has collaborated with companies around the Midwest including Lyric Opera of the North, AOT, Skylark Opera Theatre, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Lakes Area Music Festival, OOPS MN, Bay View Music Festival, AOT, Out of the Box Opera, and Really Spicy Opera. Up next, she is returning to Skylark Opera Theatre for Eugene Onegin, her third production as Music Director and Pianist. This summer, she will join the coaching faculty at Taos Opera Institute. In addition to an active performing life, she has a home recording and coaching studio called Carson Rose Studios, is a staff pianist at the University of Minnesota, and is the pianist and choir accompanist at Union Congregational Church in Elk River, MN. Dr. Schneider graduated with her D.M.A. in collaborative piano and coaching from the University of Minnesota in 2017, where she studied with Dr. Timothy Lovelace. Website: www.carsonrosestudios.com