Screen Shot 2020 11 25 at 2.32.58 PM

“The Wreath of Silver Birds” for piccolo or flute by Joelle Wallach

The Wreath of Silver Birds” was written in 1995 as an outdoor work for solo piccolo in honor of the 95th birthday of composer Otto Luening, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Virginia Center for the Creative Art’s new timpani-topped gazebo.  Luening had played flute with James Joyce’s theatre and chamber music troupe in Vienna between the 20th century’s world wars; and when Wallach wrote the work, she imagined the whistling piccolo melodies skimming across the Virginia Center’s magnificent lawns in the heat of Luening’s 95th – and final – summer. 

The title is adapted from a line by southern poet Maxwell Bodenheim (1883-1954): ”…For death is a black slave with little silver birds a sleeping wreath on his head.” The quote evokes both the ambiguous history of the South and Luening’s sweet self-serenade toward death, as full of music and enthusiasm as he’d ever been.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.