Great Expectations    2012
     for soprano and piano
  1. I.Instructions for Estella

“Break their hearts, my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!”

  1. II.Wemmick’s House

Wemmick’s house was a little wooden cottage in the midst of plots of garden... Our punch was cooling in an ornamental lake... with an island... and a foundation... ‘[L]ook here. After I have crossed this bridge, I hoist it up - so... At nine o’clock every night, the gun fires. There he is, you see! And when you hear him go, I think you’ll say he’s a Stinger.’

[W]e found, sitting by a fire, a very old man... clean, cheerful, comfortable, and well cared for, but intensely deaf. ‘Well, aged parent... how am you?’ “All right, John; all right!’

By degrees, Wemmick got dryer... as we went along... At last, when we got to his business... he looked as unconscious of his property as if the Castle and the drawbridge... and the lake and the fountain and the Aged, had all been blown into space... by the last discharge of the Stinger.

      -  Text by Charles Dickens, excerpted from Great Expectations

This piece, written for Angela Born, soprano, is my response to a decision made by the head of the English department at my high school.  All works by Charles Dickens have been removed from their English curriculum, because high school students are not mature or intelligent enough to read and understand books by Dickens.  I was part of one of the last grades to read Great Expectations before this change was implemented.  This song cycle depicts a few of the things I remember from Dickens, which I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t read this book.


The characters and plot twists that Dickens creates are astonishing. Dickens’ characters reveal so much about human nature.  The relationship between Miss Havisham and Estella, and the contrast between Wemmick’s quaint and cheerful “castle” and his cold, cheerless workplace, are two of my most vivid memories from this novel.  Who cannot relate to Miss Havisham, frozen in time by the memory of the most painful experience in her life, or to Estella, innocently manipulated and outcast, or to Wemmick, trying to maintain and balance a practical disconnect between who he is expected to be and who he really is?

Excerpt performed by Angela Born, soprano, and Ryan Connell, piano.

For sheet music, please contact me .

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