words by joseph rolnick music by david lang I lie was commissioned by the California vocal ensemble Kitka, in part with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. I have a long history with this ensemble, having worked with them on music for the American Conservatory Theater’s production of the play Hecuba, directed by Carey Perloff and starring Olympia Dukakis.
Kitka is an all woman group and it concentrates on music that comes out of the various folk traditions of Eastern Europe, so when they asked me to write a kind of ‘‘modern folk song’ it seemed natural to me to take the text of an old Yiddish song and give it new music. I chose this particular text because it has a darkly expectant feeling about it. It isn’t about being happy or sad or miserable or redeemed; rather, it is about waiting for happiness or sadness or misery or redemption. As is the case in many Yiddish songs, something as ordinary as a girl waiting for her lover can cast many darker, more deeply beautiful shadows.
I lie is dedicated to Lisa Moore and Martin Bresnick, on the occasion of their wedding.