“Hairlessness or Being Bald”

This grand-yet-humorous anthem (a novelty song) is based on one of my long-time favorite (and oft-recited) poems by American poet and literary translator Richard Wilbur. The composition is dedicated to the late Joseph Van Hester. A poem-lover himself, Joe once remarked that he believed I had a million songs in my head.

While driving to Seattle for Joe’s last art show, I was thinking of him and reciting the “Hairlessness” poem* in my head. I had a long trip ahead of me and, to pass the time, began making up a formal, serious-sounding tune in contrast to the silly words of the poem. By the time I stopped for gas in Monroe, to my surprise, my idle play had merit! I hastily found a scrap of paper in the car and recorded some notes. Sometime later the baroque-style melody asked to become a four-part choral piece.

“Hairlessness or Being Bald” had its debut in the United States and Canada in 2016, performed by the Okanagan International Chorus.

The score is SATB a cappella with a piano reduction for rehearsal.

“Hairlessness or Being Bald”  
(Synthesized recording, music only)

Cover of Opposites by Richard Wilbur

*The title of the poem is actually “23”, as it appears in this ordered position in Richard Wilbur’s book of poems, Opposites.