Chicago Songs is my attempt to musically recreate something of the spirit and people found in Carl Sandburg’s iconic poetry. Sandburg’s world is one filled with the grit of burgeoning industrialization, the earnest hope of immigrant settlers, and the heartache and beauty found in the everyday. His characters are larger than life, yet tragically human – there’s a poignancy in their foibles that I find very attractive. As a composer I’ve always been drawn to nostalgic, highly personal subject matter and these texts compilement my own nostalgic, highly personal musical impulses.
“Conductor Michael Morgan and the orchestra made its biggest mark with the work of American composers Erickson and Bernstein. The highlight was the world premiere of Erickson’s five-movement Chicago Songs, sung by the expressive soprano Marnie Breckenridge, for whom the pieces were written. Each intimate piece offered haunting and poetic musical lines for soprano that played against tightly focused and descriptive writing for strings and winds. The songs are based on Carl Sandburg’s poems of the same name, which bookend character-study observations of salt-of-the-earth types with a narrator’s poetically languid inner observations.”