Apollo Circling

High Voice and Piano

“Apollo Circling” contains four lyric songs for high voice and piano. Commissioned by the Paderewski Fund. Based on James Dickey’s commemorative poem “For the First Manned Moon Orbit.”


  1. So Long
  2. The Moon Comes
  3. You Lean Back
  4. You Hang Mysteriously
Composed: 1972
Duration: 15:00
Publisher: E. C. Schirmer Music Company
Catalog Number(s): 0151


Spec. high voice (c1-c3); 14:30; titles are So Long; The Moon Comes; You Lean Back; You Hang Mysteriously; although Perera describes these as “four lyric songs,” there is considerable drama here; primarily declamatory, disjunct with many difficult high notes; technically, musically, and interpretively difficult; atonal, with tonal areas; stark and intense, with a cold, eerie opening and impassioned close; on the experience of the astronauts’visit to the moon; an evocative, unusual, powerful contemporary cycle; recorded by D’Armand.

A Singer’s Guide to the American Art Song 1870-1980
by Victoria Etnier Villamil (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ & London, 1993)

Somehow, Ronald Perera has devised a set of songs, almost a cycle, that captures and conveys the cold, lonely, earth-longing, stream-of-thought text by James Dickey (“For the First Manned Moon Orbit,” 1969)…. The means by which Perera achieves success in setting Dickey’s text is a fascinating study in itself. He requires of the singer a two-octave range (from C to C2) with the flexibility to negotiate sometimes angular lines, sustained notes, and sudden sharply contrasting dynamic colors. In addition, he must meet the challenge of maintaining interest and bridging the gaps in the often-segmented melodic phrases. For the pianist there are long, stark single notes or chords sometimes interrupted by computer-like twittering rhythms, passages of pointillistic complexity, utilization of the entire scope and color spectrum of the keyboard, a marvelous interplay of the three pedals, and vital, driving ostinato figures that build to striking climaxes. The composer assists both artists with a generous supply of the usual musical road signs in Italian as well as with many evocative mood indications: cold, without expression, agitated, controlled, hushed, fantastic, languid, like drops, with tenderness, with controlled excitement, warm, lyric, passionately, etc. All of these reveal a song-writer of sensitive imagination, yet one who knows what he wants and how, by craft, to obtain it. This is music of calculated spontaneity that commands the listener’s attention… Congratulations are due Ronald Perera for his creation of a musical setting of a text that is both timely and timeless. He and James Dickey have given us a work that lyrically pinpoints an historical milestone in this country’s exploration of space and delves into the minds of the men who experienced that fabulous adventure.

Music Library Association, NOTES

Apollo Circling


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