A Choral Symphony
I. War II. Heroes and Heroines III. Innocents IV. One World
Soprano, baritone, narrator, SATB chorus, children's chorus (optional), orchestra: 2 flutes (2nd doubles piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 Bb clarinets, 2 bassoons (2nd doubles contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 Bb trumpets, 3 trombones, F tuba, 2 percussion: [1 - chimes, orchestra bells, tam-tam (large), snare drum, suspended cymbal, bass drum, marimba, xylophone, triangle (medium)], [2 - chimes, orchestra bells, celeste, snare drum, bell tree, brass wind chimes, timpani], harp, strings
Plymouth Music Series, with the assistance of the Dayton Hudson Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation and the Carl A. Weyerhauser Charitable Trust.
April 14, 1986 by Jehan Sedat, narrator; Lynda Russell, soprano; Jubilant Sykes, baritone; Plymouth Festival Chorus and Orchestra, Bel Canto Voices, Philip Brunelle, conductor; at the Ordway Music Theatre, St. Paul, MN
ECS Publishing, 1986. Study score #4135; full score and parts on rental. ECS Publishing supports local music dealers by not offering their music to be sold online. Please contact your local music dealer to purchase Libby Larsen's works published by ECS.
"..We all share a common dream - a dream of universal harmony and peace. Let us keep our dream alive, and strive together to fulfill it. Let us unify our actions in one direction and move the world day by day, bit by bit, closer to our goal." -- Jehan El Sadat. The Hague Women's Council, October 17, 1983
Two years ago, Mrs. Jehan El Sadat appeared as a speaker at the Hubert Humphrey Institute and address the subject of human understanding and peace. At that time Philip Brunelle, Director of the Plymouth Music Series, became inspired with the idea of commissioning a work combining Mrs. Sadat's words with music. He approached me with his dream and I became equally inspired. We arranged to meet Mrs. Sadat in Cairo and discuss a possible collaboration. She was attracted by the power of music to convey the message of her words in a new way and she agreed that she would allow portions of her speeches to become part of a musical composition. In addition, she and I would select poetry to be included in the work which illuminated her speeches and enhanced the messages of human understanding, aggression, and peace.
The work is scored for soprano and baritone solo (English Soprano Lynda Russell and American Baritone Jubilant Sykes), chorus, optional children's chorus, and orchestra. Fashioned in four large sections, each section is introduced by Mrs. Sadat through reading excerpts drawn from many of her speeches.
SECTION ONE - WAR. The reading emphasizes the horrors of war … "The Cold War is frozen stiff! And everywhere man is wolf to man." We selected two poems to be set for chorus and soloists: Mohammed Dib's The Mad Hour, which speaks of madness, terror, and violence … "You shall know it when you meet it ..." and an excerpt from Wait Whitman's Song of Myself … "Away with War ... fit for wild tigers and for lop-tongued wolves..."
SECTION TWO - HEROES, HEROINES. "Allow me to share with you the memory of my husband ... he had the courage and spiritual strength of decision to see the world as a place of suffering and tribulation, which can only be redeemed by love and by a dedication to peace and justice." These words of Jehan El Sadat introduce the notion of the strong individual in the tangle of aggression and peace. In section two, three kinds of individuals are explored: the leader, in the English translation of the ancient Egyptian Maxims of the Stele of Antef ... "I am a Man who speaks out in places of impending violence"; the dying soldier in Armenian poet Bedros Tourian's Complaint ... If this is to be my last breath here in this silent haze, let me thunder against you, Wrathful God"; and the widow, who does not understand the glory of battle, does not understand the need for war, only understands that primary love is gone, for no purpose, in Beulah Steele Jenness' Posthumous Decoration of Valor ... "Bells resound, medals avow, and to victory I bow, I bow."
SECTION THREE - INNOCENTS. "The world of adults has lost sight of its priorities and of its potential for solidarity in the face of hunger and deprivation ... Children can teach us to live together, as only they know how to ..." Section three deals with the values of weakness, strength, and aggression we adults pass on to our children. We selected Stephen Crane's The Trees in the Garden Rained Flowers, a wonderful lesson in poetry portraying the unjust maxims of might over right which adults are tragically apt to pass on to the young. Following the Crane poem are fragments from Mother Goose nursery rhymes—rhymes which began their lives as political satires and jibes at unfair governing laws, but which now are taught to children as innocent patter.
SECTION FOUR - ONE WORLD. Throughout all her speeches, Mrs. Sadat echoes the theme of human understanding, optimism, and peace. In section four, she quotes "Peace, true peace, is not the result of a balance of terror, or a tactical pause in the armaments race, or a cynical disregard of human needs and aspiration by a strong power ... It is a desire to fulfill oneself, by giving a purpose and creative meaning to our short lives ... we are all truly brothers and sisters and parts of the design of an infinitely Compassionate Maker." The final musical section is an ensemble setting of John Chadwick's Eternal Ruler of the Ceaseless Round, a text which sums up human understanding and striving to be one in our efforts to understand and exist.
© Libby Larsen, 1986