Toward a Major Work: My Walk With Walt (part 4)


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LIBERTAD

for SATB Chorus, string orchestra, piano and percussion
Music by Kevin Robison
Based on the poetry of Walt Whitman

 

I. Equanimity

I dreamt of a city
A city invincible to the rest of the earth
I dreamt a city where nothing was greater than the quality of ...

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Toward a Major Work: My Walk With Walt (part 3)

Toward a Major Work: My Walk With Walt (part 3)

THE PLANNED PREMIERE

When I returned to Los Angeles from South America, my plate was full with other things, including a potential full-time job in Atlanta. The application process became my focus for several weeks, but once that was underway, I had a little breathing room and I got back to Libertad. I remember the day I put the title on paper. The work had an identity, and that was extremely exciting. Even though the political references in my ...

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Toward a Major Work: My Walk With Walt (part 2)

Toward a Major Work: My Walk With Walt (part 2)

THE MUSIC

With what I thought was the complete text (five movements), I began to consider musical motifs and themes. Whitman’s poetry is decidedly American in nature, so I thought of Copland, Bernstein, and even John Williams, and allowed their work to color what I would be writing. I took in a few film soundtracks as well. Whitman’s poetry was at times epic, and the music needed to match that in scope. I also wanted to make the music as accessible ...

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Toward a Major Work: My Walk With Walt (part 1)

Toward a Major Work: My Walk With Walt (part 1)

BUILDING THE TEXT

I have absolutely no recollection of where the idea came from. All I remember is sitting in my sunroom in Long Beach, California, hastily winding my way through Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Haste was important, if not inevitable, for two reasons: I like to move on an idea quickly to see if it’s even feasible before I get too caught up in it, and this was a hefty part of Whitman’s output. On what I ...

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Why the road to marriage equality has never been about religion

Note: This post was originally written on July 12, 2015. It is pre-dated here in order to keep a blog series about an original composition in reading order.

Two years ago today, I married my husband. Growing up, I never imagined I would ever say those words.

Jonathan Rauch of The Atlantic wrote in his book “Gay Marriage” (2004) about something he called the imagination gap: heterosexual people could not imagine their lives without the opportunity to marry, and gay people could not imagine ...

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A year without mother

A year without mother

Exactly one year ago, my mother said goodbye to this world. Unable to walk without assistance, she had been living in a nursing home for some time. While she was suffering from some mild mental issues (mostly having to do with short-term memory loss), she was coherent enough to see that she possessed more of her faculties than anyone else in her wing. She was miserable, and if it weren’t for the wonderful caregivers she had, she would ...

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The best wedding present. From a five-year-old.

The best wedding present. From a five-year-old.

On Sunday, October 27, 2013, Keith Langston and I were married. Again. We tied the official knot in NYC the previous July with some of Keith’s longtime friends joining us, but it was important for us to come back to Atlanta and celebrate with as many people as possible. We couldn’t include everyone we wanted because our venue and budget were a bit limited, especially after buying a house; but there were a number of ...

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Rising before the ashes fall

Rising before the ashes fall

For seven years I was the resident director of music at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts on the central coast of California — a total-immersion two-year college-certified training program for actors, known for having accepted Kathy Bates and for kicking out Robin Williams (though both long before my time there). It was a great job that afforded me the opportunity to teach and work in professional theatre — work that obviously influences what I do today.

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