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Download an MP3 file of a performance of the third movement of this work ("Mother to Son") by Vox Femina Los Angeles, Iris S. Levine, conductor
Download a PDF file of the full score (solo version) of this composition. This score may be printed and duplicated for the purposes of performances. However, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, notifying us of the date/location of the performance.
Download a PDF file of the full score (choral version) of this composition.
(Photograph from a performance of these songs at the New Canaan, Connecticut library -- soprano Diana Solomon-Glover with pianist Larry Wolf, with the composer as page-turner!.)
#1 -- "A Woman is Not a Potted Plant" (poem by Alice Walker)
#2 -- "We Have a Beautiful Mother" (poem by Alice Walker)
#3 -- "Mother to Son" (poem by Langston Hughes)
Soprano and piano version premiered by Marjorie Drysdale, soprano and Marta Borgstrom, pianist at the "Celebration of the Music Makers" Festival, Chandler Hall, Randolph, Vermont, October 13, 2007
Mother Earth: Songs of a Strong Woman, are musical settings of poetry by Alice Walker and Langston Hughes, two very notable African-American poets of the 20th century. “A Woman is not a Potted Plant” speaks to the struggles of women to break out of the confines of prescribed, 'decorative' molds, into the freedom of ‘wilderness unbounded’. A particularly charming adjective, 'espaliered,' is used to describe the woman as a plant, trained to grow upon a trellis. Not!
"We Have a Beautiful Mother" is a love song to mother earth. And, with the mother theme brought to the fore, the last song presents the well-known, powerful Langston Hughes poem, "Mother to Son." The mother (voice) is indeed a strong woman, one who has persevered and is still climbing, still surviving. 'Well, son I'll tell you, life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.'
Notes by the composer