The text of There is Frost was written by Carolyn Quick in a moment of frustration as a real-time response to the Kavanaugh Hearings. In Carolyn’s words, “The frost represents the oppressive patriarchal and misogynistic culture that still hangs around us. The valley floor is Christine, ‘remembering her name’ and standing up for herself; inspiring other women to as well, sparking conversation and starting a societal ‘thaw’ of these old ideals.” In my setting, I opted to set it for self-accompanied voice with the vocalist playing piano (with the piano representing external forces that the singer is fighting against).
During the first Stanza, the piano is representative of the oppressive frost of misogyny, with harmony that hangs in the air due to the use of the damper pedal. Based on the idea of the fear pulling it back in, I repeat the vocal melody in the piano as though she lost the agency of her own words. In the 2nd stanza, as she is beginning to stand up for herself – feeling the warmth of being more grounded – I opted for a less dense texture in the piano with more counterpoint between the parts, giving the singer a more independent line with increased ownership of the harmony. This culminates in measure 39 where she is finally taking a stand for herself by singing “now refuses the loss of” acapella, reclaiming her agency.
There is Frost
There is frost upon the meadow now
just as there has always been:
a silent shroud to let the silence out
until the fear pulls it back in.
The snows have melted since the rains came, –
crystalline dews are forgetting their claims –
and the silken meadow on the valley floor
now refuses the loss of her name.
– Carolyn Quick (2018)