juliana snapper


The Curse I Refuse (2016)

The Curse I Refuse was composed by Pieter Snapper for soprano and piano. This piece is a four-song cycle, on texts commissioned from poet Samantha Starr (“Four Poems for Pieter and Juliana”).

The composer says:

 The musical language is very economical throughout, from a five-note collection in Hide to a very abstract passacaglia in Weave. The vocal writing is quite challenging, spanning more than two and a half octaves, and was written with soprano Juliana Snapper in mind. 

Listen to The Curse I Refuse

Juliana Snapper, soprano; Jerfi Aji, piano. Source: From Istanbul (© 2017 Lila Müzik), a various artists compilation album.

“Four Poems for Pieter and Juliana” by Samantha Starr

I. Hide

Its tonnage a history to carry
Nobody plays me songs on this relic anymore
And I can’t seem to thumb these keys
I am become its gravity.
A bright terror merges my bones with ivory
This soundboard is my crackling spine
My pupils are tight pins
and lashes bat the lid
My neck tendon is a concert B-flat
I overnight under this silent obelisk called music
Thinking you, sun, cannot rape me grateful
or weigh my song
If I hide here underneath
Shut the follow spots
And guard my staves.
I claw the wood
Scream the pedals
And ink a new bloodsong day.

II. Pretend

I need to pretend
I don’t have a heart
Maybe you can help me
stage that ruse
We can say what beats
Here is a clock
or a little Japanese drum
Or better,
It can be maybe something
that makes no noise
A traffic signal light
on its lowest power setting
Flashing on off yellow in
the early morning.
We can pretend this together
And, this way,
what is said
Will not make it stop
or pulse irregularly
or sound like
It is saying
I love you

III. Fight

Your irises are
plunging maddening deep
And mine so pale
A thousand little pecking birds
at your ears I set fly,
shaking their branches
To shock your brains
with my fierce little flock.
Their beaks snap your apple skin
I bask in a triumphant tangle
After my onslaught
Fall leaves find my head
Abuzz with spite
For your tulle lips
And your impossible
Redbud May cheeks
out of season
I’ll draw a pretty unicorn
Picture of you and test
my bow and arrow with it
Shooting your
Blooming feathered head
Because I love
not your locks
not your supple
sap in the spring voice
Not your legs
running with leathered glide
Not you

IV. Weave

A scrap of wedding silk
in long strips I cut,
I pull a single line
from your ode to my name.
I shred the petals
from a dried bouquet
I call back to myself
every disavowed
and feed it into the machine.
My weaving loom
hums its threads, fabric
inlaid with grief
for hours spent with you.
I embroider fast
with what is still mine,
wearing it as a mantilla of sacred shame
dyed in many singing fuchsias
overlarge and catching my heels
as I walk, saying
Here is the curse
I refuse
Here are strong fibers
Here is the legacy
that crowns my
My precious bloody bandages,
I say