In setting A. E. Housman’s text, I found myself drawn to the image of the cherry tree in bloom as one of the many ways in which nature’s beauty often moves me deeply. When I hear the poet say “about the woodlands I will go…,” I also hear an awesome resonance of what it means to search in earnest for beauty – that is to search for joy, vitality, kindness, and life. In this sense, Loveliest of Trees, speaks about a way of living, a way of knowing death in life and of living fully in that knowledge.
This work was commissioned by Noel Edison and the Elora Festival Singers. It received its premier performance as part of the Summer Lessons and Carols, at The Elora Festival, 2007, under the title, To See the Cherry Hung with Snow. In 2012, it appeared on the NAXOS release, I Saw Eternity.
This piece is dedicated to Tom Musselman, a dear friend and mentor who passed away tragically in 2010 of ALS. Wishing you grace and peace Tom. I always enjoyed our walks in the Musselman woods, from the garden plot, down on to the sawmill by the pond.