Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Fellow Americans

I've never made a secret of my political leanings. I think life is about service to others, not the acquisition of riches. But I've become terribly cynical about the ways of this world, especially since November, 2016. It feels terribly unsafe for sensitive people like me to care deeply about the world. The greatest balm for my weary soul is beauty--beauty in music and art and words and the acts of men and women. That's why I was inspired to discover composer Glen Roven's settings of two of dear Hillary Rodham Clinton's speeches--that declaring her candidacy for the 2016 Presidential election, and her speech after the results were known.  Here is a YouTube video trailer for this work, featuring the voices of many beloved singers:

I've written before that I'm not qualified to write about new music. I've always called myself a bel canto bear, but sometimes newer things come along that impress me. (For example, that Puccini guy was pretty good.) Usually it's about the overall experience, such as a new operatic work that is an amazing piece of theater and performed with great skill and passion.  That is my feeling about The Hillary Speeches. The texts make me very emotional, even upon remembering them as I write this. The setting is, of course, highly skillful. I liked the reuse of important motives like the fanfare "My fellow Americans" theme. I liked the contrast between lyrical and declamatory sections, and the use of rhythmic and melodic motives that bring to mind different images--the driving rhythm that brings to my mind the industrious, hard-working image of America, the syncopated rhythm that brings to mind more joyful, innocent images of our country.

In addition to the trailer above, I was also able to see a live performance from April that was part of an evening of an evening of social protest expressed in the arts.  (Click the Archive tab and scroll down to "Let Us Persist". The songs appear at the beginning of the program, but there is a reading between the two songs.) This performance was just as inspiring as the trailer I link above.

Although they were written for a female voice, I think any singer with the range and interpretive chops should perform them. I would encourage the singers among my readership to investigate programming them. This is a work that will stand the test of time.

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