Gwyneth Walker

The Right to Vote

for SATB Chorus (1996)

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Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of a performance of this work by the Master Singers of Worcester, Malcolm Halliday, conductor.

Download a PDF file of the full score of this composition. This score may be printed and duplicated for the purposes of performances. However, please send a message to, notifying us of the date/location of the performance.

The Right to Vote was composed in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Women's Rights Movement: 1848 - 1998. This work is essentially a dialogue between the voices of society at large (19th century), denying women the right to vote, and the voices of individual women working toward suffrage. At first, the dialogue is uneven. Many sing, "No! You can't vote!" Only a few voices answer, "But I believe that we are equal. I believe that we are free."

As the verses unfold ("No, you can't speak!" "No, you can't own a business!" "No, you can't express yourself!"), the women speaking for themselves expand their message. They grow in strength into a final flurry of "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

The Women's Rights Movement was initiated mostly by Quaker women. Therefore, in this song, the references to faith as the source of equality spring from the Quaker philosophy. And God is referred to as the One Teacher.

"And in God's eyes we are equal. And in God's eyes we are one!"

Notes by the composer

Performance Notes:

It is suggested for performance that the men and women stand on opposite sides of the stage, facing each other. This will visually enhance the dialogue. This a dramatic presentation rather than a musical selection. The singing should emphasize rhythm and diction more than vocal tone.