Voyage of the Soul
Voyage of the Soul is a concert work for baritone, piano, and string quintet (2 violins, viola, violoncello, and contrabass). The text is made up of selections from six poems from Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman's poetry collection and magnum opus. The common thread throughout the poetry selections is one of facing mortality and the idea of the immortality of the soul. Although a literal reading of Whitman's writings about death and the soul is possible, the "voyage" of this piece is about a personal progression of emotions and perspectives relating to mortality and possible immortality: wonder, fear, loneliness, awe, courage, and finally peaceful acceptance. Much of the melodic material was derived from an early 19th-century American hymn tune, "What Wondrous Love Is This," known to many from its inclusion in the shape note hymn book The Southern Harmonyi. The tune makes a full appearance at the climax of the piece.