Art Songs

Words of great poetry lend to music the vision, intelligibility, and vulnerability of the poet’s voice. Music teases out the essence of the poetic utterance and acts like a semantic spotlight, representing the deep grammar’s rhythm and emotional arc.


Corbell leads a song premiere at The Waypost, Portland, OR

I wanted to get outside of those little boxes of the pop song – verse, chorus, verse, chorus – and write music that develops in a more fractal and organic way. That search drew me to motivic classical composition – each unfolding line is a journey of discovery. Sometimes the result sounds familiar, sometimes more fantastic and meandering, and the difference is often inspired by the text.

I think that was my other goal – to give the text a primary place. We often tune out the words of songs that we hear in more casual environments and repetitive forms. Art-song is about the alchemy where text and music really fuse into a single lyrical utterance.
– Christopher Corbell

Cult of Orpheus art-song concerts feature a variety of voices, chamber instruments, and poetic inspiration. Printed scores are available, and new recordings are in the works.

Commissions for singers and vocal ensembles are also welcome – contact music (at) for more information.

Art Songs by C. A. Corbell

Catullus II and V
in Latin, for tenor and piano. Order a score

“Ein Gott vermags” (Rainer Maria Rilke)
in German, for baritone, cello and guitar

“I thought once how Theocritus had sung” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
in English, for soprano and string trio. Order a score

Insect Songs (from haiku by Issa, tr. Robert Hass)
in English, for soprano and flute

Love’s Alchemy (four Sufi poems, tr. Fideler & Fideler)
in English, for soprano, mezzo-soprano, flute, and harp

“O Dieses ist Das Tier” (Rainer Maria Rilke)
in German, for baritone, cello and guitar

The Emerald Tablet
in new English translation by C. A. Corbell
for vocal quartet and string quartet

Three songs from The Dhammapada
in English, for baritone and piano. Order a score

Three sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay
in English, for mezzo-soprano and piano. Listen, and order a score

“Tristesses de la lune” and “Hymne” (Charles Baudelaire)
in French, for three voices. Listen, purchase digital single, order a score



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