Apples and Time Crack in October

four songs for soprano and piano

Jack Van Zandt

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four songs for soprano and piano

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Composer Jack Van Zandt
Year of Composition 2015
Duration ca.15'

Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-jvz1aatc1


  1. Apples and Time Crack in October
  2. A Poem Sat
  3. The Nightingale
  4. Helen’s Invocation

Apples and Time Crack in October marks the first collaboration between longtime friends, composer Jack Van Zandt and poet Jill Freeman. The song cycle is dedicated to soprano Kirsten Ashley Wiest, who has recorded the work with pianist Siu Hei Lee for their “Luminous” CD. In composing the work, Van Zandt wanted to make the piano a full duet partner, going beyond an accompaniment role, and both parts are equally challenging. The title song that opens the cycle is an atmospheric, metaphorical evocation of classic fairy tales, one of Freeman’s favorite subjects. The second, A Poem Sat, paints a surrealistic picture of human art objects made tangible in the context of nature. The Nightingale is an existential allegory on the differences between the human and natural worlds. The final song, Helen’s Invocation, is the piano version of the opening aria from Van Zandt and Freeman’s opera-in-progress, “A Thousand Ships,” that explores different views of Helen of Troy’s role in the Trojan War. The curtain rises with Helen on the stern deck of the Trojan ship taking her to Troy on the evening she leaves her native Sparta with her lover, Paris. It is dusk and she faces west toward Greece and pleads with the Gods, especially Aphrodite, to stop the coming slaughter that is going to be blamed on her by men who consider women to be property without the right to exercise free will.

Jill Freeman is a Los Angeles singer, songwriter, performer, and poet. Her trio, The Life Is Grand Band, was a stalwart of the L.A. music scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, gaining an avid following for their tight harmonies and original songwriting. Their song “Feel Like Makin’ Art” was included on the Fast Folk series which is now part of the Folkways Smithsonian collection.

Following the dissolution of the band, Jill went on to develop her own style of songwriting. Her debut solo effort “Songs About Sex and Depression,” garnered tremendous reviews for idiosyncratic and highly personal songwriting. With her latest CD, “A Handmade Life,” Jill takes her songwriting to a new and deeper level. Using folk and fairy tales as her starting point, Jill explores the subconscious underpinnings of these timeless—and often very disturbing—stories and how they reflect the human experience. “A Handmade Life” is made more compelling by the music that blends a singer/songwriter sensibility with intricate arrangements and instrumentation played by some of the best musicians in Los Angeles.

Jill’s songs and voice have been frequently heard on film and television. She also collaborated with blues guitar legend Robben Ford for his “Keep on Running” CD. Jill and composer Jack Van Zandt are collaborating on further projects, including operas and more song cycles.