text: Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Terry Tempest Williams
duration: 14min  30sec
instrumentation: soprano and two percussionists (harmonic whirlies, Beluga Whale jawbones, 2 organic vegetable seed packets,
4 Korean gongs, marimba, piece of junk metal, pine cone rattle, 2 river stones, Chinese temple blocks, 3 Vietnamese temple blocks, Yupik frame drum) with a recording of Bonobo vocalizations
movements: I. The Last Roundup II. Rattle the Cage/Bend the Bars III. WIld Mercy
premiere: Maria Jette, soprano; Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd, percussion; The Science Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN on 03/16/2007
commissioned: The Schubert Club



This piece is recorded by soprano Polly Butler Cornelius on the CD Wild Songs; a song recital as suitable for an environmental consciousness-raising event as for the salon. Drawing on impassioned pleas and the enigmatic nature-centered poetry of Emily Dickinson these powerful, lyrical songs charm and chasten.

Heitzeg’s Wild Songs — a set of three pieces on environmental themes on texts by Rachel Carson, Dr. Jane Goodall and Terry Tempest Williams — starts the recital on an urgent note. Cornelius is joined for these colorful songs by Zeitgeist members Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd on percussion instruments such as the jawbone of a Beluga whale, packages of organic seeds, and a Yupik frame drum. Not to be left out, bonobos (albeit pre-recorded ones) join the mix for the final song, a plea to preserve natural wilderness areas.

Heitzeg’s other songs on the album set texts from Corinthians, Aeschylus and Robert F. Kennedy, whose dying words, “Is everybody else alright?” epitomize the selflessness and compassion at the center of this glowing program.


  • Polly Butler Cornelius, soprano
  • “For people who think back nostalgically to Schubert and his musical circle and marvel at the small, private pleasures they enjoyed, here is evidence that such musical society and magic exist today, and that living composers … write music that is similarly attentive to the intimate, hidden beauties implicit in the composing music for friends. … [T]he music and poetry together … is aligned as only art songs can be to the vibrations and moods of the time.” — Laurence Vittes, Gramophone
  • Wild Songs: No. 1. The Last Roundup
  • Wild Songs: No. 2. Rattle the Cage – Bend the Bars
  • Wild Songs: No. 3. Wild Mercy
  • 3 Graces for Hildur: No. 1. It’s all I have to bring today
  • 3 Graces for Hildur: No. 2. Ample make this Bed
  • 3 Graces for Hildur: No. 3. The earth has many keys
  • Loveblessing
  • Is Everybody Else Alright?