C trumpet (and sleigh bells) and boy soprano (and bodhran) (6’). For Eddie Ludema and Ben Johnston.

from the Hávamál

Våkne tidlig
hvis du vil
annen manns liv eller land.
Ingen lam
for lat ulv.
Ingen kamp er vunnet i sengen



Wake early
if you want
another man’s life or land.
No lamb
for the lazy wolf.
No battle’s won in bed.


This work was composed for the 2010 New Art/New Music installation, premiered alongside Caleb Weintraub’s eye-popping sculpture, “Prelude to a Beatdown.” Being somewhat of a zany person myself, I was immediately drawn to Weintraub’s intensely colored environment, which featured a hungry-looking hyena leading two ornately dressed warrior children through a craft-supply-apocalypse forest. To me, the ominous trio was marching past foliage of intensely colored puffballs, yarn and glitter en route to a village of terrified adults awaiting their inevitable annihilation.

Since the kids’ costumes, intricate and extravagant, reminded me of Norwegian folk-wear (or at least my memory of the paper cut-out ones that I had to use for a 6th grade social studies project), I sought out some text from the Hávamál  (“Sayings of the high one“), an epic Norse poem from around 800 AD. I could imagine the children in the sculpture using these prophetic lines as some kind of Warrior’s Code. I pulled a passage and divided it into three movements: I. Death March, II. Listen and III. Farewell. Across all three movements, a sense of malignant pomp, distorted reality, and the brainwashed determination of a child soldier pervade.

Download score

Live performance by Ben Johnston (soprano) and Eddie Ludema (trumpet).

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