Some Favored Nook

Eric Nathan’s oratorio, Some Favored Nook, takes place in Civil War-era America and is inspired by the twenty-four-year correspondence between an unlikely pair: Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the commanding officer of the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first black regiment in the Civil War. The oratorio uses Dickinson’s words as a lens to view the social, political, and cultural issues of this early chapter in American history—civil rights, women’s rights, the effects of war, and the artist’s role in society—all issues that are as relevant today as they were in Dickinson’s time.

This correspondence offers an intimate look into Dickinson’s private world, as well as Higginson’s involvement in social and political issues of the day. Dickinson’s artful prose is as worthy for song as is her poetry, and Nathan sets excerpts from both her letters and poems sent to Higginson. As many of Higginson’s letters to her are lost, texts from Higginson’s own writings on issues of the day, and diaries from his “Life in a Black Army Regiment”, give an important historical context to Dickinson’s work.

The work is composed for, and dedicated to, Jessica Rivera, Andrew Garland and Molly Morkoski.