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That Time with You by DAVID BRUCE


Kelley O'Connor sings the last of the four songs from 'That Time with You', 'Bring Me Again'

Having recently collaborated successfully with Glyn Maxwell on our chamber opera The Firework Maker's Daughter - a fun and warm-hearted story for family audiences - I felt in the mood for something a lot darker. There are whole categories of 'sorrowful songs', from Dowland through to the Blues which I have always been hugely drawn to, and I felt it was time to explore something in this field. Knowing this was very much within Glyn's range of expression and having just seen a beautiful lament lyric he wrote for play in Chester, I asked him if he would give it a go. As with my song cycle The North Wind was a Woman, I asked him if we could have a conceit (in the North Wind it is elements of nature singing in the first person) - perhaps the songs would be seem like love songs, but they would actually be the voice of Death or Time, or of somebody who had passed away.

I think the four poems Glyn came up with are incredibly evocative and expressive. The first and third poems 'The Sunset Lawn' and 'Black Dress' are clearly Death singing; the second and fourth 'That Time with You' and 'Bring me Again' and more mysterious, but they both deal with a sense of loss in a relationship. Perhaps they are voices from beyond the grave.

David Bruce July 2013

1. The Sunset Lawn

I was not why you came by
To the party on the sunset lawn
When I caught your eye
    You looked away
Then back again

I had never crossed your mind
You wondered who on earth I was
Was I your kind
    Did love demand
Some time of us?

I know nothing of that love
You know I'm nothing of the kind
By the stars above
     There's time enough
To meet me, friend

2. That Time With You

You wonder what I'm looking for
When the sky's blue
And the morning's long
And you ask what's wrong and there's nothing wrong
But it's half true -
    I was looking for that time with you

You wonder why our silences
They brew and stew
Where they used to grow
And you ask is there something and I say no
But that's not true -
    I'm looking for the time I'm spending
    Looking for that time with you

You wonder in some messages
What happened to
Some way we were
And you call me 'love' and I call me 'her'
And yes it's true -
    For she's looking for the time she's wasting
    Looking for the time she wasted
    Looking for that time with you

I wonder if you'll call or if I
Hope you do
I mean to say
For I do have such a busy day
You know that's true
For I'm looking for the time I'm losing
    Looking for the time I lost
    Looking for the time I've lost
    Looking for that time with you

3. Black Dress

Three coffees and an early start
Be still my navigating heart
I've a black dress and a GPS
And I have a date to enter

I have a pretzel and a hunch
I have a number I can crunch
A black dress and a GPS
And I set out from the center

And in the center there I stay
Though I ride a century and a day
In a black dress with a GPS
While the highway rolls below me

I have a cell-phone and a song
I never put a toenail wrong
I've a black dress and a GPS
And you'll know me when you know me

4. Bring Me Again

Where we met, bring me again
Where I met you and you met me
To the hour before the moment when
Bring me again

What you knew, tell me again
What you lived and loved and longed for
What were these when I was none of them
Tell me again

Where you're from, take me again
Where you dreamed and what you dreamed of
To the time before the time had come
Take me again

Now you're gone, meet me again
When you see a stranger waiting
By a stream when all has come and gone
Meet me again

Press / Latest Reviews

New York Times / Oct 2013
Zachary Woolfe

Of the three recent song cycles on the program — all New York premieres — Ms. O'Connor got the most successful. In "That Time With You" (2013), David Bruce has set four Glyn Maxwell poems in an eclectic range of styles united by an intoxicating haziness.

Ms. O'Connor sang the mostly a cappella title song with a countertenor's plangent pang. The stark, dry piano chords that opened "Bring Me Again" yielded to a bluesy, torchy melody in whose moody slowness she reveled. / Oct 2013
Janelle Gelfand

David Bruce's cycle "That Time With You" (2013), a setting of four poems by Glyn Maxwell performed (and co-commissioned) by O'Connor, was a wonderful find. Bruce's style was eclectic, sometimes evoking Prokofiev or the blues. In "The Sunset Lawn," busy, rhythmic piano figures set against long, lyrical lines for the singer proved to be mesmerizing. A soaring a cappella piece was tailor-made for O’Connor's artistry. The gospel-tinged "Bring Me Again" seemed to come from deep in her soul. It was all instantly appealing. / Oct 2013
Stephanie Adrian

The standout of this cycle is the final song, "Bring Me Again." Here O'Connor was supplied with a plaintive, dirge-like ballad, at times Gershwinesque, which allowed her to open up and employ some full-out operatic singing. The entire cycle is exceedingly well suited to her voice, incorporating choice leaps and tasteful melismatic passages here and there. It's a song cycle that should be heard again and again. / Oct 2013
Joshua Kosman

The afternoon's most intriguing offering was the premiere of "That Time With You," a four-song cycle written for O'Connor by the English composer David Bruce. The cycle is set to elegantly ambiguous poems by Glyn Maxwell, in which Death appears as a shadowy seducer with "a black dress and a GPS."

Bruce's score is both tart and moody, with intriguing rhythmic patterning in the first song and a bluesy closer

Financial Times ★★★★ / Oct 2013
Allan Ulrich

In "That Time with You" David Bruce sets the verse of Glyn Maxwell with a conversational ease that recalls Ned Rorem at his finest, and O'Connor rendered the short cycle in a voice that fused intimacy with grandeur.


for Mezzo-soprano and Piano

Duration c.15mins
Composed Jan-July 2013
First performance Kelley O'Connor & Robert Spano, CAL Performances, Berkeley, 13 Oct 2013
Commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Kelley O'Connor

Past Performances

  • OCt 13 2013
    CAL Performances, Berkeley (Kelley O'Connor)

  • Oct 17 2013
    Kennesaw State University, Georgia (Kelley O Connor, Robert Spano)

  • Oct 20 2013
    Pepperdine University, CA (Kelley O'Connor)

  • Oct 26 2013
    Memorial Hall, Cincinnati (Kelley O'Connor, Robert Spano)

  • Oct 29 2013
    Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall (Kelley O'Connor, mezzo-soprano; Robert Spano, piano)


  • Bring Me Again
    Kelley O'Connor, R.Spano

Related Posts

 • Passion and laughter (10/19/2013)
 • The townships of my mind (9/16/2013)


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