Benjamin Williams

Difficult Loves (2015)

I was invited by Soprani Compagni to participate in a project of new music for two sopranos on the theme “Portraits of Women”, which—as you might imagine—was somewhat daunting for me. What do I know about women? What could I say about women?

The poems selected for Difficult Loves were all written by Sara Teasdale, and perhaps give a portrait of a tragic female poet. But for me, it was just as important that these poems express the difficulty of relating to others, regardless of gender. These poems deal with the ways in which we sometimes misunderstand each other, stand distant from one another, or simply imagine others the way we fear they might be. Empathy then begins at the point where we recognize that the ‘other’ is probably just like us.

Commissioned by Soprani Compagni, Lisa Dawson, Tammie Huntington and Phoenix Park-Kim.

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