Journey Home Additional Materials

These materials and links are provided in order to give the artists and audiences more context into the works on the The Singers’ JOURNEY HOME program, October 2019.

Click here to view the CONCERT PROGRAM BOOK.

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Timothy Takach: At Home (World Premiere Performance)  
Composers Note

Writing a piece about home is not a terribly unique venture, but it is one that is so rich and has inspired many poets and composers. This is no surprise, for everyone remembers and celebrates the place where they belong. To me, At Home strays from some of the normal tropes of youth, ancestry, and birth home memories and instead moves toward the home we create as adults. Since the piece was commissioned by Laurie Jacobi for her husband Cotty Lowry’s 70th birthday, the poetry I chose feels very personal, very specific. From the first movement we know the characters: there is a “you” and “I,” the two people occupying this place. But Wendell Berry’s poem doesn’t immediately join these two people together, he instead asserts his own individuality of where he finds himself at home, and it’s alone, out in nature. Yet he still cares for his partner in this poem, wishing for them to stay just as content in their own personal place of belonging.

Cotty Lowry is a real estate agent, and so Laurie wanted to include moments that described the physicality of houses. The maintenance, the aging, the sense of space. “New Roof” does this so well, combining Berry’s love of nature with the grounding element of his house. The rising arpeggios in the winds are constantly searching upwards, let loose from the confines of the house to reach the boundless. “Good Bones” is a commissioned poem from longtime collaborator Julia Klatt Singer, whose language and imagery matches Berry’s so well. This ode to an aging house is a delightful metaphor for our own bodies: how they age and how they are loaded up with wisdom, experience and memories. Her flirtatious way of recalling the couple’s history is mirrored in the clarinet writing and the harmonies from the choir. (See if you can spot the musical quote, sung by the piano in the hallway.)

“A Place” is full of movement, with the choir singing in a round, and the woodwinds moving from the front of the hall to the back. It’s here that Berry tells us that the journey we’ve been on our whole life has not been a journey at all, but the place we’ve been seeking. So we find our couple finally at home, “Together on the Porch.” After embracing their individuality in the opening movement, they now occupy the same space, in a quiet routine of love and of life. They know they are loved, but they choose to say the words out loud anyway. And not knowing which will be the first to go back into the house is the same as not knowing who will outlive the other. There is no fear, but they find comfort and fulfillment instead in the present time and present place. Not the journey, the place. At home.

Paul Winchester: If It Was Your Son (World Premiere Performance)
Composer’s Note

     When I stumbled across this poem on Facebook, I was immediately struck by the poignancy and truth of its words – about how easily we can look away from tragedy and fail to remedy human pain and suffering in favor of our own comfort. I was stunned to learn that the words were written by a very young man, a 16-year-old Syrian journalist reporting via social media on the horror, violence, and suffering in his country.
     Posted with this short poem was a picture of a small child – probably 3 or 4 years old – in a life jacket on the shore, wailing, as his family seeks refuge from war. I had only seen this repackaged through Facebook and so when I went to find the original post, made on Twitter, I found the image replaced with the disclaimer message printed above. Now, I never use Twitter, which means that whatever my content settings are are the default. I was so struck by the irony: the message of this poem paired with a disclaimer hiding the photographic subject of the work by default for fear of disrupting our peace and our worry – our false tranquility that requires the shutting out of the terrible suffering of those around us.
     May all children be ours.

Melissa Dunphy: American DREAMers
Learn more about some of the individuals whose stories we are honored to share through Melissa Dunphy’s incredible cantata.

Web page for Ms. Dunphy’s score info and texts, click here.

Who is Marlene Rangel? Her narrative runs throughout the work, and you can learn more about here here.

Javier Zamora and Janine Joseph are two undocumented immigrant poets. Learn more about Undocupoets and a special fellowship offered to fellow undocumented writers here.

Julia Montejo’s “#UndocuJoy is the final paragraph in a remarkable essay that she wrote. Read that essay here. In Ms. Montejo’s essay, she mentions a short video by Define American which inspired the title and theme of her writing. We recommend you watch this powerful video here.

Claudia D. Hernández is a poet who was 10 years old when she came to the United States. Her text was drawn from an article at the Poetry Foundation called “DACA Rescinded & Poets Respond.” See the entire article here.

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