Voices of Children: 'Songs of Innocence' - A Conversation with Composer Stephen Caracciolo

Apr 7, 2016

It is a poignant reality that innocence once lost can never be regained. But the innocence of childhood can always be enjoyed vicariously in the laughter and tears of children themselves, and also in music and poetry inspired by childhood. Composer and Lancaster Chorale artistic director Stephen Caracciolo’s choral work Songs of Innocence brings the pure and distant world of childhood to life in word and song.

Above: Composer Stephen Caracciolo talks with Classical 101's Jennifer Hambrick about his choral work Songs of Innocence. Musical excerpts performed by Cathedra, Michael McCarthy conducting.

This week, The American Sound’s series of contemporary American choral works setting powerful poetry continues during National Poetry Month with Stephen Caracciolo’s Songs of Innocence, settings of four poems from William Blake’s famed collection Songs of Innocence and Experience. Listen to The American Sound at 6 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Tuesday on Classical 101.

Composed on commission for the Lancaster Chorale, Caracciolo says his Songs of Innocence aim to bring out the untainted emotions of children’s joy, rest and calm that Blake’s poetry evokes.

“It’s a very idyllic kind of world that these texts live in,” Caracciolo said in a recent conversation. “It speaks to the innocence that a child can live through, the pleasure that we get in viewing children in their innocence – in their play, in their sleep, and the powerful relationship between a mother and child.”

Listen to the audio feature above to learn what attracted Caracciolo to William Blake’s poetry, how he approached setting those delicate poems to music and how his own music reflects his devotion to the poetry it sets.

Join me for Stephen Caracciolo’s Songs of Innocence on The American Sound, 6 p.m. Saturday at 7 p.m. Tuesday on Classical 101.