Unless preceded by concert credits, audio excerpts are MIDI realizations.

Two Songs from The History Lesson

Soprano and piano (“The Armory,” “Little Miss 1565”), texts by Francesca Soriano Hersh (2001) See Stage Works

Two songs from the teacher’s retelling of the 1944 circus fire in Hartford, Connecticut. The first describes the scene at the armory, where friends and relatives gathered to identify the remains of victims. Little Miss 1565 recalls the little girl who remained unidentified and was transformed into a symbol for the youth and youthful dreams that were lost that day. She became well known, and much loved throughout the Hartford community, as “Little Miss 1565.”

Children of God

Mezzo-soprano and piano, texts by Francesca Hersh (2005), ca. 24’

Three songs, dedicated to young victims of political violence: Rachel Corrie, a peace activist killed in Palestine, child soldiers, and the four girls murdered in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. I – Rachel Corrie; II – The Game; III –
Four Girls.

Score   Program note and text

Earthly Prayers

Tenor, piano and percussion (1993), ca. 53’

A five-movement work combining Hebrew, Latin and Anglo-Saxon prayers with the testimony of victims of political conscience.

I – The Deposition; II – B. W. 1916-1979; III – Quiet Prayers; IVLeaps of Faith; V – The Refugee; VI – Anne Frank

Excerpts from the concert recording by John Duykers, tenor, Brenda Tom, piano, and Michael Bayard, percussion


Lullaby for the Millennium

Soprano and ensemble (flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, quartet) (also transcribed for soprano and piano) (1995), ca. 7’

A setting of the composer’s text, which alternates between a gentle lullaby and a farewell to some of the historical tragedies that defined the 20th century.

Five Benedictions for the Little Flowers

Soprano and string trio (1997)

California Songs

Soprano, flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, and string quartet [texts by Francesca Soriano Hersh] (1998), ca. 26’

A native son and daughter’s homage to the sweet illusion and bitter harshness through which this "island of dreams" was conceived.  Composed for the State’s Sesquicentennial celebration. I – To Babylon; II – Alice in Holyland; III – The Blind Mules; IV – Island of dreams

Program note and text

Concert recording: Kerry Walsh, soprano; Music Now, Howard Hersh


Shrapnel in the Heart

Soprano, seven instruments (flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, string trio) and four-channel tape (1991), ca. 30’

Based on writings from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The soprano and ensemble are onstage, the playback surrounds the audience. Each channel is independent and is composed of its own readings of letters and pre-recorded performances by the ensemble. The title is taken from an interview with one of the letter writers, who described the loss of a loved one to war as a wound that will not heal, caused by “shrapnel in the heart.”

Excerpt from the premiere


Sketches from Life ( II - Dreaming of Rain)

Transcription of an Aborigine ritual, for large chorus (1988)

A transcription that aims to capture the sung and ambient sounds of an Aborigine ritual.

Dear Kitty (Skye Boat Song)

Unaccompanied chorus (texts from the traditional song and the Diary of Anne Frank) (1992), ca. 7’

Let Evening Come

Mixed choir (text by Jane Kenyon) (2006), ca. 8’

Score   Program note & text

Concert recording by Volti, directed by Robert Geary.

The sensitive and exciting music of Howard Hersh belongs in the American canon.

Pauline Oliveros