BEAN SÍ for solo euphonium and prepared piano (2018)

About the music

From Irish folklore, the bean sí, or banshee, is a female spirit that warns of an imminent death in specific lineages. It is said that the banshee can be heard wailing nearby the night before someone will die. This piece for solo euphonium and prepared piano is an exploration of the various qualities that the banshee embodies: denial, mourning, and anger. To help tell this story, artwork was commissioned from Shay O’Day and poetry was commissioned from Emily Khilfeh.

Bean Sí was commissioned by Dr. Robert Benton, Jason Gilliam (consortium organizer), and Dr. Joanna Hersey Ross. This piece was premiered by Jason Gilliam.


Bean Sí © Shay O'Day 2018


dark mother        bog mother        she sent howling        she        black white she

         washing the tin        heavy        as a shield        kiss the cliffs        and make them        weep

palms open like a saint        walking forward          howling        into a new world

         some things are kept        coins        kicked under shoes        tidy stitches        stone

screaming        that word sung        death        that word sung        misery her long hair

         dredged        from memory        she traces lines        more mapped than the weaving hands

of colonists        there are no names to take        from her        a vein of        beauty         

         white wearer clawed        nameless        old young woman        witch

you know her know        howler screaming truth        walking forward        warning gentle

         warning siren        death        you know her        quiet mother in the fields        holier than

a knucklebone        walking forward tangle grass        tangle face        hear her quiet

         name her        mother        name her        circle her crying        circle her        holy         

tracer she finds you        do not fear she is        warning you only        warning that        sorrow

         find her white hair see her        stacked rock        black cloth eyes        like nails

if she lost a lover        let her walk        forward        if she lost a child        let her find you


Bean Sí © Emily Khilfeh 2018