Hungry Man

for voice and cello


At the time I conceived this piece, Kevin McCarthy had just suffered 14 humiliating public defeats in his quest for the speakership of the US House of Representatives. A story about naked ambition untempered by any sort of reflection could equally apply to, say, Elon Musk or Donald Trump. This piece was premiered online by Nico Caruso and Jordan Bartow at University of South Carolina as part of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music Virtual Artist Partnerships on July 13, 2023.

There was a man, ravenous

Hungry for glory and fame.

He had Hunger on the Brain.

He felt a Hunger in his Brain,

a wanting, without End

kept gnawing, roiling, till it seemed

his mind would never mend.

Ah! Hunger is a cold bed,

It goes on breaking, breaking.

Ah! Hunger is a deep hole,

It goes on taking, taking.

And when finally he fed his wish

A Thirst, that demon supplicant

Kept whispering, whispering, till he thought

Of more and more to want.

Ah, Hunger!

In the end he was alone.

His company, a mockery

And all the treasures in the world

A senseless litany.

The demon whispers:

“Who will your master be?”