Sleep Now

High Voice and Piano

Winner of the 1990 NATS Art Song Competition. Five songs with text by James Joyce.


  1. I hear an army
  2. Ecce Puer
  3. She weeps over Rahoon
  4. The twilight turns from amethyst
  5. Sleep now
Composed: 1985
Duration: 13:00
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Catalog Number(s): VAB 301


Ronald Perera’s “Sleep Now,” to poems of James Joyce, received its premiere performance. Written for Smith while Perera was on sabbatical leave in London during the fall of 1985, the five songs are written with exquisite sensitivity to the rhythms of speech, and indeed, resist any imposition of regular foot tapping. The melodic lines, which have a floating, modal flavor, are usually quite long — the last note of a phrase is often held longer than one might expect, as if the singer is to create a sense of unending resonance. The sustaining pedal of the piano, with a few exceptions, is in constant use, contributing to the dreaminess….Though the songs are simple and direct in their expression, there is nothing simple about the writing, and each subsequent performance will help release the music from the printed page. The performance Sunday night represented a good start for a composition that will hopefully have a long and fruitful life.

The Morning Union (Springfield, MA) 10/23/86