Emergence: Emily Dickinson

Lead Author:

Nicole Panizza


Nadine Benjamin



Unit of Assessment

33: Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

Output Category:

Q - Digital or visual media

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Emergence: Emily Dickinson

The research output Emergence: Emily Dickinson consists of an album and the album’s liner notes.

Album: Emergence: Emily Dickinson

Aaron Copeland (1900-1990)
Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson)

  1. i) Nature, the gentlest mother
  2. ii) There came a wind like a bugle
  3. iii) Why do they shut me out of Heaven?
  4. iv) The world feels dusty
  5. v) Heart, we will forget him
  6. vi) Dear March, come In!
  7. vii) Sleep is supposed to be
  8. viii) When they come back
  9. ix) I felt a funeral in my brain
  10. x) I’ve heard an organ talk sometimes
  11. xi) Going to Heaven!
  12. xii) The Chariot

Luigi Zaninelli (b. 1932)
Seven Epigrams of Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson)

  1. i) Had I pleasure you had not
  2. ii) Who knows where our hearts go
  3. iii) I trust this sweet May Morning
  4. iv) We wouldn’t mind the sun dear
  5. v) I am studying music now
  6. vi) Till it has loved
  7. vii) You might not know I remembered you

Juliana Hall (b. 1958)
To Meet a Flower (Emily Dickinson)

  1. i) “Whose are those little beds,” I asked
  2. ii) God made a little gentian
  3. iii) The daisy follows soft the sun

A Northeast Storm (Emily Dickinson)

  1. A Northeast Storm

In Reverence (Emily Dickinson)

  1. i) It is an honourable Thought
  2. ii) Lightly stepped a yellow star
  3. iii) Prayer is the little implement
  4. iv) Papa above!
  5. v) The grave my little cottage is

Sylvia Glickman (1932-2006)

  1. Black Cake: A Recipe by Emily Dickinson

Ella Jarman-Pinto (b. 1989)

  1. This Little Rose
Liner Notes: Emergence: Emily Dickinson
PDF of liner notes for Emergence: Emily Dickinson



Summary Statement (300 words)

Emergence: Emily Dickinson is practice-research inspired by art song settings of Emily Dickinson’s literary oeuvre. Devised, curated, and performed by pianist Nicole Panizza and soprano Nadine Benjamin, the output consists of a studio-recorded album.

This research critically reflects on the process of curating the breadth of Dickinson’s texts via sonic modality; investigates and promotes the wider catalogue of art-song settings based on her work; explores the notion of ‘emergence’ through song preparation and performance; and via creative dissemination of the research material brings Dickinson’s signature language to new audiences.

The work draws on recorded song collections inspired by Dickinson’s literary canon (Robin, 2012; A Certain Slant of Light, 2017; Wild Lines: Improvising Emily, 2018), and innovative art-song presentation (The Darker Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise, 2018). Whilst many emphasise singular written themes and musical genres, this recording serves as a distinctive anthology: the merging of Dickinson’s full textual scope with a broad account of complementary musical response.

The album derives from the curation of idiosyncratic examples drawn from Dickinson’s catalogue (poem, letter, epigram, recipe), and select examples of both seminal and unpublished art song settings of this material. Critical literary considerations such as device, form, punctuation, syntax, meter, and prosody guide this process. Key performance strategies such as breath, gesture, phraseology, and identity are explored in real time; revealing hidden contours of meaning within the poet and composer’s creative practice that, when experienced through recorded song praxis, become ‘visible’.

This research reveals Dickinson’s diverse literary legacy, and promotes practice and scholarship of the lineage of musical setting and performance of her work; thereby rendering fresh possibilities for contemporary ‘readings’ of her creative corpus beyond more traditional scholarly and inter-medial platforms. Emergence: Emily Dickinson features in international peer-referred performances, broadcasts, and presentations and was nominated for a 2020 International Classical Music Award.


Contextual Information

Points of Analytical Reference

Presentation ​

Shortlisted (vocal category), 2020 International Classical Music Awards