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Laments for a Modern World

Laments for a Modern World is a project combining 17th century compositional techniques with new poetry to create a set of Musical Laments, to be presented in the Spring of 2023. 

The open call for poets and librettists to write Lament text for compositional consideration is now open. The selected poets/librettists will work directly with Ai to set their words to music, and the final presentation will include a live performance of the new works. 


SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW CLOSED - Thank you to everyone who applied!

All applicants have been notified of their results.

Are you a poet or librettist? Have you always wanted to collaborate to create a piece of music? Send in an application for "Laments for a Modern World"! A knowledge of musical composition is not required, as you will be guided by Ai to turn your words into song! Topics may include (but are not limited to): climate change, gender equity, race relations, current events., personal experiences, etc.


What will I need to submit?

-An original Lament (this may be written in any language, but an English translation should be included for any text that is not written in English). Topics may include (but are not limited to): climate change, gender equity, race relations, current events, personal experiences, etc.

-A brief artist's statement about your Lament (Why is your Lament important to you? What is the story or message you are trying to convey?). For examples of Laments, see below.

-There is no application fee

Why should I submit an application?

- See your text turned into music and performed by professional musicians

- Share your work with an international audience

- Selected poets/librettists will be compensated $200.00 CAD each upon completion of the project (or the equivalent in their currency, minus wire-transfer fees).

What will be required of me if my work is selected?

- Several one-on-one workshops (over Zoom) with Ai to help set your text to music 

- Short written/recorded interviews for publicity purposes (TBD)


All applicants will be notified of the result of their applications via email on or before April 1st, 2022

For more information, send an email to 


At their core, Laments are expressions of grief, commonly appearing in literary, dramatic, and musical works.  Traditionally these laments focused on the loss of a loved one (such as the Mother Mary lamenting over the body of Jesus) or a ritual leave-taking (the so-called "Bridal Lament") and were used to help process grief. Laments from a romantic standpoint are also common, such as Ariadne weeping after the Ancient Greek hero Theseus abandons her. This project is focusing on the compositional practices of the 17th century musical Laments, which feature a simple instrumental underscoring while one or more vocalists sing a melody that heightens the emotional aspects of the chosen Lament text. 

Examples of pre-existing 17th century Musical Laments:

Claudio Monteverdi: Lamento d'Arianna (Ariadne) -

Henry Purcell: Dido's Lament -

Barbara Strozzi: L'Eraclito Amoroso -


Laments are hailed by many as some of the most beautiful pieces of music in the classical music canon. As an emotional highpoint in many early operatic works, they are often singled out as the pièce de resistance, such as “Dido’s Lament” in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas or Monteverdi's "Lamento d'Arianna" (the only part of his opera Arianna that survives). My hope is that these new "Laments for a Modern World" will help to tell stories that resonate with us, as well as outline some of the problems that we as a society face today. 

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