Caroline Mallonée:

...To Paint The Stars:

Five Nocturnes for Soprano and Orchestra (2001)

To Paint The Stars was written between 1996 and 2000 and was premiered by New Music New Haven with soprano Janna Baty.

  1. for soprano and orchestra

  1. duration: approx. 18 minutes

...To Paint the Stars

Performed by New Music New Haven

with Janna Baty, soprano

Program Note:

This song cycle illustrates nuances of the night through orchestral color.  Each movement uses the language of stars to construct a discussion of mortality.  In the first movement, we hear the twinkling of stars and the chirping of crickets in solo flutes, solo violins, the harp and the celesta.  The middle three movements balance the soprano voice against an array of instruments, and capture the many moods with which we query death.  In the final movement, the clarinets frame Dickinson’s poetic resolution before darkness fades to dawn.



I.  Nuit Blanche  (Amy Lowell)

The chirping of crickets in the night

—is intermittent—

like the twinkling of stars.

II.  In Late November  (Alicia Rabins)

in late november

stars hang rattling

like dead sweetgum-balls

and the wind beats against my cheeks


if i am this cold

and the near frozen leaves

crumble so easily under my boots

i must never die

III.  The Starry Night (Anne Sexton)

The town does not exist

except where one black-haired tree slips

up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.

The town is silent. 

The night boils with eleven stars.

Oh starry starry night!  This is how

I want to die.

It moves.  They are all alive. 

Even the moon bulges in its orange irons

to push children, like a god, from its eye. 

The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.

Oh starry starry night!  This is how

I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night

sucked up by that great dragon, to split

from my life with no flag,

no belly,

no cry.

IV.  Midnight  (Dorothy Parker)

The stars are soft as flowers and as near;

The hills are webs of shadow, slowly spun;

No separate blade or single leaf is here -

All blend to one.

No moonbeam cuts the air; a sapphire light

rolls lazily, and slips again to rest.

There is no edgèd thing in all this night,

Save in my breast.

V.  These Astral Ones  (Emily Dickinson)

The Moon upon her fluent Route

Defiant of a Road—

The Star’s Etruscan Argument

Substantiate a God—

If Aims impel these Astral Ones

The ones allowed to know

Know that which makes them as forgot

As Dawn forgets them—now.

I. Nuit Blanche

II. In Late November

III. The Starry Night

IV. Midnight

That does not keep me from having a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion.

Then I go out at night to paint the stars.

– Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

V. These Astral Ones