Lady Evergreen Song is a work scored for mezzo soprano soloist and unaccompanied mixed chorus and was completed in 1987, during my final year of undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The Gregg Smith Singers premiered the work at their summer festival at Lake Saranac in July of 1994. The poem, by A.M. Pérez, is a narrative of sorts, telling a story in two parts. The first, in past tense, recalls a period of growth and eventual departure. The second, in present tense, confronts, with sadness and acceptance, the emptiness caused by that departure.
While composing Lady Evergreen Song, Pérez’s poem took on great personal meaning. At the time, I was graduating from college and preparing to leave Madison, a home within which I had become comfortable. Ironically, some eight years later, the work’s first performances coincided with my departure from graduate school and student life altogether. But there is, I hope, ultimately a more universal message found within the work: that of the inevitable course everyone must, from time to time, travel. As the poetry draws to an end, Pérez asks the poem’s only question: “where will you be?” This simple yet poignant conclusion gives meaning and clarity to the preceding prose, and ultimately, to the ever unfolding story of growth and change as seen through the reluctant eyes of sentiment and reminiscence.