Mary writes: I have always been drawn to music with evocative images, emotions, and stories. I did not have to search out the songs; instead, the music for Storyteller found me. Ordering the selections into an unusual sequence allowed me to interpret the songs in a more effective manner: characters could be more readily defined, circumstances more expressively detailed, and closure created for the pieces that lacked tidy endings. I had the feeling of creating my own opera in the selection and ordering of this program. I have included several poems here as way to further develop the drama of the musical works with which they are paired. "What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why" is a perfect match for Poulenc's Fiançialles pour rire, echoing the meaning of Louise de Vilmorin's text of the song cycle. In "Monica's Waltz," "Sympathy," and "Green Finch and Linnet Bird," the desire to escape terrible circumstances is very strong. These three songs tell of individuals held captive and their longing for freedom. Monica's imagination is the vehicle of her escape; by playing with her mute friend, Toby, she creates a world that provides her with the love and respect she most desires. Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar relates his experiences of the cruelty of racism in captivating imagery. Johanna looks to her birds to find her voice: "if I cannot fly, let me sing." I find Calamity Jane a mystery. She is at once an extraordinary, independent woman of her time, a woman who yearned to belong and mourned her lack of friends. Her love for her daughter, Janey, brought her the greatest happiness in life as well as the greatest sorrow. The excerpt from The Great Gatsby seemed a fine match for Michael John LaChiusa's "Tom". I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's book while I was programming Storyteller, and this passage jumped out at me. I was thrilled to find an excerpt that captured the heart-racing moment of attraction and also flowed seamlessly into the song. Though Edith Sitwell's poems are enigmatic, William Walton's settings are brilliantly crafted, specifically in the use of the piano to evolve musical realizations of Sitwell's evocative descriptions. Still, trying to explain these poems is like the effort to recount a vivid dream that you struggle to remember. The retelling lacks the visceral impact of the original experience. We produced this recording over a two-day period in the recital hall at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, in December of 2005. I was two months pregnant with my beautiful twin daughters-all my blood was rushing to my belly! A second recording, Approaching Eden, consumed a third day (Approaching Eden will be released in 2009).