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ROUTINE SURPRISE (2020) - for soprano and piano

Premiere: Grusin Hall, University of Colorado Boulder School of Music, March 11th, 2020, for Pendulum New Music Series. Cover art by Mimi Harding. 


Duration:  ca. 11 min.



by Maggie Hinchliffe

I. Morning

Eyelids heavy, like the moon

concedes to morning air,

sliding into consciousness

and into childcare.


Eardrums on the radio

while navigating dawn,

each routinely wondering

the composer of the song.


Ah, he sighs, I’m rarely right,

so Bach will be my guess.

I will guess Bach every day

until I am correct.


Ears and eyes awaken

with surprise as they discover:

Bach is playing every morning

now and through October!


II. Afternoon


Afternoon of black and white (a usual routine),

with repetitious ivories the center of the scene.

Rarely resting, only for her father’s inquiry––

a dialogue of dinnertime and daily wondering.


Mozart Meatballs? he suggests, adding then,

Beethoven Bread? Concluding cleverly, of course, Chopin Casserole? he said.

Stunning——his ability to generate delight, routinely

adding color to a life of black and white.


III. Evening


Wild nights were I with thee,

enchanting tune and poetry;

arpeggiating, racing piano

conversing with the star soprano.


Swirling skirts, they dance offstage,

breathless on their escapade,

collaboratively hypnotized

by lingering melodic lines.

Reciprocating compliments,

soprano to accompanist:

I saw your father——second row,

Did you see his face aglow?

Genuinely in surprise

because she never realized

while worryingly harmonizing,

he routinely beamed.

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