A 17th-century riddle poem, “I Saw a Peacock With a Fiery Tail” at first seems fantastical: A peacock with a fiery tail! I saw a comet drop down hail! Full of evocative text painting, this choral setting reveals the sense of the poem by dividing each line between the two choirs and then reordering the text. A comet with a fiery tail! I saw a cloud drop down hail! The music allows for this reordering by ending each phrase with a tendency chord that can be resolved in two ways. The piece returns to the magical imagery in an antiphonal setting for double choir at the end.
“I Saw a Peacock With a Fiery Tail” was premiered in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2013 by VocalEssence with Philip Brunelle conducting.