Silver Wing (download)
This dramatic, extended song for soprano and viola tells a story about love, loss, and the effects of war.
Carrie Henneman Shaw, soprano, and Matthew Williams, viola
Voicing: soprano and viola
“Silver Wing” is taken from the dance opera Test Pilot (2014), a collaboration between choreographer Penelope Freeh and composer Jocelyn Hagen. This new setting of a song lyric by Canadian singer/songwriter Marie-Lynn Hammond speaks to so many people, especially veterans and their family members. The composer was inspired by the relationship between her grandmother and her husband, Louis Theodore Hagen, III., who served in World War II as a navigator and was never quite the same upon return. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his outstanding service in the Air Force.
Visit testpilotdanceopera.com for more information.
he had twelve days leave when I met him in Montreal we courted a week then got married he wore his uniform I wore my grey silk suit and a hat with a veil
my mother shook her head and said you hardly know the boy
but it was the spring of ’44 it was such a crazy time and he seemed so brave so full of glory
with his talk of planes and the sky I remember him saying
“Oh flying — well the Hurricane is a damn fine plane and I wish you could see all the boys and me doing loops and dives in tight formation chasing the wind like eagles in the sun.”
it was spring again when I went to meet his train they sent him home a hero with medals and that look in his eyes and a cane — I hardly knew him
and most nights he’d wake up shaking and scared but he’d never tell me what he was seeing
but it was the spring of ’45 it was such a hopeful time when he was finally on the mend we’d sit on the porch and he’d watch the sky like he was looking for something
Oh flying, sun on the silver wing it’s so silent out there like a blue cathedral you can climb and climb till the earth falls away and you’re finally alone now you’ve finally come home
well the doctors told him he could never fly again but a hero’s a hero and the Air Force takes care of its own oh they let him fly a desk for thirty years and except for the drinking nothing much has changed still got his medals and his aches and pains still got his bad dreams he’s still the same stranger I met at the train
but there was a boy in ’44 he always dreamed of flying and one day his plane took off and you know, they’ve never come down he’s still somewhere flying oh flying, sun on the silver wing
– text by Marie-Lynn Hammond, from her song Flying/Spring of ‘44