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The Boston Globe


Music review

Song cycle connects poems of war

CAMBRIDGE — Last week’s events in Boston placed an all-too-timely gloss on Sunday night’s Collage New Music concert in Pickman Hall. The second half of the program was devoted to the premiere of Rodney Lister’s “Friendly Fire,” a new song cycle for tenor and large chamber ensemble on the themes of modern warfare, cycles of violence, victims, and perpetrators.

In a pre-concert discussion Lister explained he was originally inspired by the Ken Burns documentary series “The Civil War” and its depiction of that conflict as the first modern war. Through the composer’s choice of poems — by Allen Tate, Herman Melville, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, Denise Levertov, Brian Turner, and others — this cycle accordingly links the world of the Confederate dead with more than a century of conflicts that followed, up to and including the Iraq War.

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