I was commissioned by musica intima to write this piece in 2000 for a concert that would feature compositions by the group, Les Six. The text I chose by the French poet, Paul Verlaine, links nicely to Les Six and the school of Nadia Boulanger. What attracted me to the poem was the imagery of stark juxtaposition. The concept of a serenade is romantic, being sung from below a lover’s window. However, Verlaine puts a tortured voice in a grave, as he both praises and disparages his subject. Musically, the work follows this imagery moving from beautiful harmonies to harsh dissonances. The words and music portray love with loathing, beauty with repulsiveness, and pleasure with disgust.. (CG)
"Craig Galbraith's Sérénade is a setting of a dark symbolist love poem by Verlaine. Sombre, full of soft attenuated lines, delicate dissonances, close harmonies and sliding pitches, it's a rarefied piece of writing, and its rich part-work and atmosphere were beautifully drawn out by the singers."
-Lloyd Dykk, Vancouver Sun
"A highlight of the concert was the world premiere of Sérénade by the young Vancouver composer Craig Galbraith. With its riverlike melodies flowing through an ocean of jarring dissonances, it brought a rich and colourful vibrancy to a morbid love poem by Paul Verlaine."
-Douglas Hughes, The Georgia Straight