5 movements, 9 minutes

Vocalise to Begin
Dark Corner
Vocalise to Finish

soprano, violin, cello, clarinet and percussion

2 March 2015
Adrienne Lotto, soprano; Alyssa Wang, violin; Cecilia Orazi, cello; Allyson Edington, clarinets; Jason Yoder, percussion
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Following the 2013 publication of a full-size volume of his poetry, Alfred Starr Hamilton (1914-2005) is finally receiving attention—  albeit posthumously. Subsisting for most of his adult life on $80 a week, Hamilton labored in obscurity, living in a tiny boarding house in Montclair, New Jersey. Unusually prolific, he typed each of his poems only once, mailing them off to friends and family—  sometimes at the rate of 45 poems per week. Understandably, much of his work has been lost.

Hamilton never formally studied poetry, nor did he ally with any literary or artistic movement. His poetry—  surreal, mystical, mischievous, and unfailingly unusual—  is sui generis. Stephen Sparks writes that Hamilton was an "austere figure at the margins of a literary culture that has little room, and even less time, for genuine eccentricities."