WordSong: The Second Coming
four settings of a text by William Butler Yeats
One text. Four composers. A public conversation.

The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

At Sheffield Chamber Players, we are so proud of our unique way of bringing people together and finding connection through music—but we aren’t alone in trying to reach those goals. With that in mind, we are excited to collaborate with the folks at WordSong on a project to bring new music and new connections to life. Composers Howard Frazin and Tom Schnauber created the WordSong project to produce engaging performance events which provide incredible inroads into the craft and creative process of composing. Each of their forums features newly written pieces for voice and instruments from multiple composers, all based on an identical text. Following the performance, the forum continues with a discussion from the point of view of the audience. The WordSong mission speaks of trying to throw out the outdated model of simply “playing music at the audience,” and we couldn’t agree more. It’s a gift to find institutions that we are so aligned with, and are sure that our community will love. Read on to hear from Howie and Tom about WordSong and what to expect when you join us for this unique experience.

~ Leo Eguchi


WordSong, founded in 2008 by composers Howard Frazin and Tom Schnauber, is Boston’s premier interactive concert organization. WordSong has created a new concert format focused on public conversation around intuitive musical understanding, aspiring to reconnect musicians and audiences through shared, active, artistic experiences. In its 14-year history, WordSong has produced 12 forum series and various other programs based on texts as diverse as Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” and Langston Hughes’s “Harlem.” More than 50 performances, including more than 60 new works by living composers, have been presented throughout New England, as well as in New York, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C., and as far away as Vancouver and Bulgaria.


Here’s how the event will work: First, we all read the poem and listeners give their reactions. Then we play the songs; and then, you the listeners and we the composers and performers will have an open dialogue about what we all just heard: a dialogue about various points of view, preconceptions, and emotional impacts. In the course of the discussion, we’ll play each of the pieces again. A WordSong Forum is all about multiplicity: multiple settings, multiple hearings, multiple meanings. Together, we will discover how a single, familiar text can inspire a variety of thoughts and feelings; we will explore our perspectives and yours and how they are represented in the various meldings of words, ideas, and music. We hope you will join us in this exploration of multiplicity, this interaction between the familiar and the unfamiliar, this new way to experience new music!


~ Howard Frazin and Tom Schnauber