Gwyneth Walker

Mother of Exiles

for Narrator and Orchestra (2019)
for Narrator and Piano (2018)

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Download a PDF file of the piano score/narrator's part of this composition.

Download a PDF file of the full score of this composition. Parts are available upon request.

Mother of Exiles (a gesture to welcome the stranger) is a musical expression of the poem "New Colossus" written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. The poem is a tribute to New York Harbor's Statue of Liberty, which welcomes immigrants to our shores.

The music opens with an orchestral introduction of quiet, and then full strength, to set the mood for this powerful topic. The Narrator then offers a description of the Mother of Exiles (statue), whose flame is the imprisoned lightning...from her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome...

A peaceful section follows, with the orchestra providing background chords to the reading of the famous lines: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free... Narrator and orchestra interweave, leading to the inspired, closing words: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

The orchestra responds with a "Lift the Lamp" section, marked with strength and conviction. Thematic material is characterized by rising (uplifting) intervals, ascending scalar patterns and triumphant final chords.

The composer was moved to create this work as a reminder that many of our ancestors came to this country as immigrants. As they may have found refuge in the past, so might we now lift a lamp beside the golden door.

Notes by the composer