Five Subway Songs (1995, 15')

for voice and piano. Text in English by Henry Monroe


When I first read Henry Monroe's "Subway Poems" I was struck by their power to evoke images familiar to every New Yorker. As I was reading the poems, I immediately started to hear the music in my head, and decided to set five of them to music. The poems depict an array of the unique characters, in turn tragic, weird or plain crazy, that populate the City's subway system. What makes the poems fascinating to me is that they are written in a style rich with the cynical, cranky and sarcastic humor which is, I believe, one of the necessary assets for dealing with New York.