University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra, University of North Texas Grand Chorus, David Itkin & Richard Croft | Ahab Symphony - Jake Heggie (Texts By Herman Melville and W.H. Auden)

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Ahab Symphony - Jake Heggie (Texts By Herman Melville and W.H. Auden)

by University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra, University of North Texas Grand Chorus, David Itkin & Richard Croft

The "Ahab Symphony" is a meditation on life & death, our place & purpose on the planet, the relentlessly cyclical nature of things, perceived triumphs, helpless rebellions, aspirations, resignations, & the brave, lonely man (Melville) who wrote the story.
Genre: Classical: Orchestral
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ahab Symphony: I. Dawn
University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra, David Itkin, Richard Croft & University of North Texas Grand Chorus
6:48 album only
2. Ahab Symphony: II. The Wind
University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra, David Itkin, Richard Croft & University of North Texas Grand Chorus
7:03 album only
3. Ahab Symphony: III. The Narrow Balcony
University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra, David Itkin, Richard Croft & University of North Texas Grand Chorus
7:15 album only
4. Ahab Symphony: IV. The Pieces
University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra, David Itkin, Richard Croft & University of North Texas Grand Chorus
6:15 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Ahab Symphony (2013) Jake Heggie (b. 1961)
I. Dawn [6:48]
II. The Wind [7:03]
III. The Narrow Balcony [7:14]
IV. The Pieces [6:15]


The idea for Ahab Symphony originated in 2010, shortly after The Dallas Opera premiered my opera Moby-Dick. That May, College of Music Dean James Scott put my name forward as a nominee to be UNT’s 2010-11 artist-in-residence, including a commission to write a new work. Still reeling from the experience of composing the opera, I suggested a piece I’d been thinking about: a big symphonic work with chorus and soloist — an Ahab symphony; a further meditation on Melville’s book — and a chance to explore more deeply this fascinating, complex character.

A month later, I was invited to be artist-in-residence through UNT’s Institute for the Advancement of the Arts (Herbert Holl, director). The six-week residency included a performance with the great tenor Richard Croft, a member of the UNT faculty; I had been a fan since I first heard him in 1996 at the Met. Not only a tremendous singer with a gorgeous voice, but a genuine artist: deeply musical, innately theatrical and generous of spirit. He agreed to be the soloist in this imagined symphony.

Time went by, and the shape and content of the symphony kept shifting. Eventually, Gene Scheer led me to W.H. Auden’s gorgeous 1939 poem “Herman Melville.” From that moment, the poem seemed to point the way. The chorus would sing Auden’s lines, and the soloist would sing some of Ahab’s lines from the final chapter of Moby-Dick.

Auden’s poem gives us a haunting, personal perspective of Melville — the man resigned to, yet ever wrestling with, the reality of his life versus the content of his work. The great author of America’s iconic novel Moby-Dick died in 1891 at the age of 72, a customs inspector in New York City, his books virtually unread for nearly 40 years. This was certainly not how Melville had envisioned his life.

I decided to juxtapose the Auden poem with parts of Ahab’s last monologue, beginning with “What a lovely day again today.” Ahab knows this is likely to be his last day on Earth, so he pauses momentarily to look over the sea: the sea that had defined the triumphs and tragedies of his life; the sea that would ultimately consume him. He remarks on its timelessness, knowing that his is but a brief chapter in a long, unending and ever repeating story.

An Ahab symphony. A meditation on life and death – our place and purpose on the planet – the relentlessly cyclical nature of things – our perceived triumphs – our helpless rebellions – our aspirations – our resignations – and the brave, lonely man who had to write the story: Herman Melville.

Jake Heggie



Texts drawn from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Chapter 135: “The Chase – Third Day”
and from W.H. Auden’s poem “Herman Melville”*

Note: lines from the Auden poem that were not set in the score are in braces [ ]

Movement 1: Dawn

Oh, what a lovely day again! were it a new-made world, and made for a summer-house to the angels, and this morning the first of its throwing open to them, a fairer day could not dawn upon the world.

Towards the end he sailed into an extraordinary mildness
And anchored in his home and reached his wife
And rode within the harbor of her hand,
And went across each morning to an office
As though his occupation were another island.

Goodness existed: that was the new knowledge
His terror had to blow itself quite out
To let him see it; but it was the gale had blown him
Past the Cape Horn of sensible success
Which cries: “This rock is Eden. Shipwreck here.”
[But deafened him with thunder and confused with lightning:
- The maniac hero hunting like a jewel
The rare ambiguous monster that had maimed his sex,
The unexplained survivor breaking off the nightmare -
All that was intricate and false; the truth was simple.]

Movement 2: The Wind

Were I the wind, I’d blow no more on such a wicked, miserable world. I’d crawl
somewhere to a cave, and slink there.

Evil is unspectacular and always human,
And shares our bread and eats at our own table,
And we are introduced to Goodness every day.
[Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;
he has a name like Billy and is almost perfect
But wears a stammer like decoration:]
And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;
It is the Evil that is helpless like a lover
And has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,
And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.

And yet, ‘tis a noble and heroic thing, the wind. Who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow.

How wild the winds blow!

A vile wind that has no doubt blown ere this through prison corridors, and wards of
hospitals, and ventilated them, and comes blowing hither as innocent as fleeces.

Out upon it! - it’s tainted.

Movement 3: The Narrow Balcony

For now he was awake and knew
No one is ever spared except in dreams;
[But there was something else the nightmare had distorted –
Even the punishment was human and a form of love:]
The howling storm had been his father's presence
And all the time he had been carried on his father's breast.

[Who now had set him gently down and left him.]
He stood upon the narrow balcony and listened:
And all the stars above him sang as in his childhood
'All, all is vanity,' but it was not the same;
for now the words descended like the calm of mountains –
[- Nathaniel had been shy because his love was selfish -]

Movement 4: The Pieces

But let me have one more good round look aloft here at the sea; there’s time for that. An old, old sight, and yet somehow so young; aye, and not changed a wink since I first saw it, a boy, from the sand-hills of Nantucket! The same! - the same! - the same to Noah as to me.

But then he cried in exultation and surrender
“The Godhead is broken like bread. We are the pieces.”

Oh, lonely death on lonely life!
I turn my body from the sun.

And sat down at his desk and wrote a story.

* “Herman Melville” by W.H. Auden, used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Copyright © 1939. All Rights Reserved.



Jake Heggie has earned international acclaim for his operas Moby-Dick, Dead Man Walking, Three Decembers and The End of the Affair. He has also composed more than 250 songs, as well as concerti, chamber music, choral and orchestral works. Dead Man Walking is one of the most performed new American operas with 40 international productions since its San Francisco Opera premiere in October 2000. As pianist and composer, Heggie collaborates with many of the world's great singers, including Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Joyce DiDonato, Audra McDonald, Kiri Te Kanawa, Ben Heppner, Stephen Costello and Richard Croft. Heggie’s works have been commissioned by Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Pacific Chorale, Pittsburgh Symphony, Ravinia Festival, and many more. Heggie lives in San Francisco.
American tenor Richard Croft is internationally renowned for his performances with leading opera companies and orchestras around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala, Opera National de Paris, Berlin Staatsoper, The Salzburg Festival, Festival d’Aix en Provence, The Berlin Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, The Cleveland Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic, and The Boston Symphony Orchestra. His clarion voice, superlative musicianship and commanding stage presence allow him to pursue a wide breadth of repertoire from Handel and Mozart to the music of today’s composers.

The 2013-2014 season included performances at Los Angeles Opera as Captain Vere in Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd with conductor James Conlon and the title role in Idomeneo at the Teatro Colón. Mr. Croft launched his operatic season at the Theater an der Wien, where he performed the title role in Idomeneo to critical acclaim. He then joined the Canadian Opera Company as Hyllus in Handel’s Hercules. Other recent highlights include Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. Croft has been a UNT voice faculty member since 2004.

David Itkin has served as Director of Orchestral Studies at the UNT College of Music since 2008. Maestro Itkin has appeared as guest conductor throughout the United States, in Europe, and Asia, including appearances with the San Diego Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Fort Worth Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Slovenska Filharmonija, Colorado Philharmonic, Shanghai Broadcast Symphony, and many others. He has served as Music Director and Conductor of the Abilene Philharmonic since 2005, and has previously held similar positions with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Arkansas Symphony, Birmingham Opera Theatre, and Lake Forest Symphony. Maestro Itkin’s collaborations with great artists include concerts and recordings with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Misha Dichter, Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg, Christopher Parkening, Janos Starker, William Shatner, James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, and President William Jefferson Clinton. He is also the author of Conducting Concerti: A Technical and Interpretive Guide (North Texas Press, 2014).
Jerry McCoy, 2013 winner of the Texas Choral Directors Association’s Choirmaster Award, is Director of Choral Studies and Regents Professor of Music at the University of North Texas, where he conducts the A Cappella Choir and Grand Chorus, teaches graduate conducting and choral techniques, and guides the choral studies program. He is national chair of the Past-President’s Advisory Council of the American Choral Directors Association, a member of the INTERKULTUR international advisory board, and Music Director of Schola Cantorum of Texas. McCoy is one of America’s most respected choral conductors, having conducted all-state, regional, and festival performances and clinics in thirty-seven states across the nation. He holds advanced degrees in choral conducting from The University of Texas at Austin, including a certificate in voice performance, and an undergraduate degree in choral music education from the University of Texas at Arlington.
As the premier orchestral ensemble at the University of North Texas, the UNT Symphony Orchestra is made up of some of the most talented student musicians from around the world. Under the direction of current conductor David Itkin, the group recently recorded three concertos with legendary saxophonist Eugene Rousseau (Jeanné Records). The Symphony Orchestra’s history includes performances in Spain, Mexico and throughout the Mediterranean area, as well as at Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and Bass Hall in Fort Worth. The many high-profile guest artists who have joined the UNT Symphony Orchestra onstage include Edgar Meyer, Vladimir Viardo, Mariangela Vacatello and Robert McDuffie.
The UNT Grand Chorus is comprised of more than 180 singers drawn from the A Cappella Choir, University Singers and Concert Choir. It has performed under the leadership of many of the world’s most highly-respected orchestral conductors including the late Georg Solti, who called the UNT Grand Chorus “one of America’s best choirs.” The UNT Grand Chorus served as the resident chorus for the Dallas and Fort Worth symphony orchestras prior to the establishment of their own choruses.


Violin I
Kevin Smith+,
Euline & Horace Brock Concertmaster Chair
Alison Fletcher
Leah Greenfield
Renée Hemsing
Thao Huynh
Melissa Jõesaar
Josip Kvetek
Zo Manfredi
Frederick McKee
Samuel Wood
Caitlin Whitehouse
Eun Seo Park

Violin II
Seula Lee*
Salma Bachar
Ha Viet Dang
Emily Davis
Ashton Fineout
Beixi Gao
Shan Jiang
Will King
Caleb Mallett
Sung Ha Park
Yuko Tatsumi

Salwa Bachar*
Isaiah Chapman
Sera Jung
Lacey Kesterke
Rogerio Nunes
Miriam Oddie
John Petrey
Cameron Rehberg
Veronika Vassileva

Narae Kim*
Alexis Barnett
Yu-Ho Chang
Daniel Chilton
Valentina Crnjak
Ilia De la Rosa
Brian Seo
Amy Shin
Kyungjin Yoo
Lejing Zhou

Double Bass
Mariechen Meyer*
Will Coppoc
Jesus Insuasty
Jon Kern-Anderson
Julia Milrod
Jason Scott Phillips
Gabriel Sakamoto
Sung Jae Um
Heran Yang

Leslie Daniel Newman*
Uri Nahir

Erin Lensing*
Ashley Rollins

Rucha Trivedi*
Connor O’Meara

Katie Thompson*
Kathleen Montes

Heather Suchodolski*
Justin Gonzales
Jennifer Hemken
Kayla Howell
Meagan O’Neil

Andreas Stoltzfus*
Ryan Brewer
Trevor Duell

Jon Gauer*
Kevin Knight
Eric Wallace

Jennifer Betzer

David Reinecke

Blayze Campbell*
Tyler Kennamer
Chulmin Lee
Tyler Tolles

+ concertmaster
* principal


A Cappella Choir
Jerry McCoy, conductor

Angela BouKheir
Julie Bowdren
Jamille Brewster
Tish Davenport
*Fiona Gillespie
Grace Johnson
Brittni Kelly
Eleni Kotzabassis
Erin Lancaster
Erin Matthews
Oneyda Padierna
Michelle Perez
Susannah Woodruff

Natalie Bradner
Claire Choquette
Cari Earnhart
Lauren Harvey
Elizabeth Holcomb
Kara Kasberg
Megan Sherrod LaFour
Madelaine Martinez
Rachel Moss
Chaazi Munyanya
Alyssa Narum
Emily Poulsen
*Natalie Reitz
Angie Rosenblatt
Laurel Semerdjian
Julie Silva
Rachael Winters

Michael Alonzo
Tucker Bilodeau
Hunter Bown
*JD Burnett
Stephen Carroll,
understudy for
Mr. Croft
Hyunjun Choi
Martin Clark
Davion Hambrick
Darry Hearon
Nathan Hodgson
Patrick Jones
Nathan Schafer
Lixin Tong
Joel Wiley

Anthony Brinkman
William Derusha
Yadin Echeverry
Baird Gehring
Kerry Glann
*Christopher Jackson
Yowon Jung
Nate Mattingly
Joshua Smith
Ryan Stoll
Matthew Stump
Philip Williams

University Singers
Richard Sparks, conductor

Sylvia Bonniwell
Brenna Caldwell
Kelly D’Souza
Gabrielle Gilliam
Kelsey Hawter
Megan Hoggarth
Caroline Hunt
Sara Kennedy
Kathryn Ligon
Pei-Chi Lin
Elizabeth McGee
Christina Mucker
Kimberly Newcomb
Kami Noyce
Stephanie Pickens
Erica Rocha
Victoria Rodriguez

Nicole Balestrieri
Ashley Brockman
Katie Butler
Jessica Flores
Alison Gomulka
Shawna Graves
Claire Haseltine
Daryl Jackson
Rachel Keo
Mindy Knight
Stephanie Kong
Natalie Manning
Margaret Nievar
Alexandria Porter
Sienna Riehle
Amanda Sadler
Sandra Sonntag

Michael Bolding
Benjamin Elliott
Matthew Fabilenia
Roy Flores
Santiago Gutierrez Herrera
Ronald Harris
Keith Meline
Joseph Piacenti
Ryan Spradley
Brandon Strother
Christopher Walker

Cody Alarcon
Stephen Bolduc
Adam Davis
Matthew Dinh
Douglas Gibbs
Luis Gonzalez
Stephen Hawthorne-Hill
Mason Jarboe
Marcus Kang
Peter McKinney
Malcolm Payne
Kevin Porras
Evan Scallan
Jeremy Shedd
Guillermo Valentin

Concert Choir
JD Burnett, conductor

Lyanne Alvarado
Erika Arteaga
Gwenlyn Boley
Kayla Broughton
Amanda Chamberlain
Hayley Cogley
Yiyi Gao
Nadia Garcia
Nicole Harberson
Rachel Nelson
Briana Olivares
Melyn Saenz
Mariana Sastre
Nicole Silva
Tresha Spencer
Brittany Strother
Erin Thelen
Andrea Weidemann
Anna Wood

Kylee Acoba
Alex Barsalou
Sarah Birdsinger
Francesca Cacal
Jillian Cantu
Yuna Chang
Taylor Greene
Amanda Jacobsen
Piper Johnson
Lauren Liebel
Hailey McNutt
Sophia Ramirez
Kimberly Stirl
Amber Yarborough

Dylan Barnard
Kameron Bennett
Benjamin Brown
Ronnie Reeves-Chambers
Jacob Denny
Kevin Hawkins
Cory Jones
Ryan Kearney
Joshua Mallory
Anthony Ortega
Ryan Roche
Diego Valdez
Joshua Wilkerson

Jonathan Ayana
Micah Baker
Warren Baldwin
Sidney Barber
Cameron Casey
Alexander Choyce
Richard Diaz
Charles Einkauf
Matthew Huizar
Eli Lopez
Daniel Myers
Colton Pugh
Eli Ramirez
Alexis Romero
Daniel Routh
Daniel Sabzghabaei
Matthew Vogl

Ahab Symphony was commissioned by the University of North Texas College of Music and Institute for the Advancement of the Arts. It is dedicated to James Scott with love, respect, gratitude and admiration.

Jake Heggie thanks Richard Sparks, Elvia Puccinelli, the generous staff and faculty of the UNT College of Music,
Herbert Holl, Margaret McDermott, Mary McDermott Cook, Robert K. Wallace, T. Walter Herbert, Dallas Opera, Gene Scheer, Joyce DiDonato, Curt Branom, Virginia and Bob Dupuy.

The University of North Texas College of Music wishes to thank the UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts for their generous support of this project.

Recording production, engineering, editing and mastering: David v.R. Bowles (Swineshead Productions, LLC)
Assistant engineer: Blair Liikala
Recording venue: Winspear Hall, Murchison Performing Arts Center, Denton, Texas; April 26-28, 2013
Front cover image: Walvisvangst bij de kust van Spitsbergen – (Dutch Whalers near Spitsbergen), Abraham Storck, 1690
Front cover design: Bradley Haefner



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