Updated: Sep 18, 2021
The three world premiere pieces on the CCS program are about change over time.
Firstly, "The Lake" tells the story of nature throughout the year in the great lakes region (specifically, Duluth, MN). We watch the lake and its ecosystem shift with each song over a year's cycle, progressing in a relatively predictable pattern each time. These poems were primarily written more than a decade ago. I wanted to use them because they focus on what seemed to be the "unalterable" parts of nature...which today we realize are anything but unalterable. The seasons may look a bit different now than they did in 1997. Climate change is real and caused by the irresponsibility of humanity, and nature depends on us to keep it (and ourselves) safe throughout the coming decades and centuries.
Jennifer Barrett is a dear friend and I trust her implicitly with pieces that are exceptionally close to my soul. In the Litany project she sang my autobiographical song "Just a Phase", and in addition to being one of the voices in "Breathe", she sings the song "These Days" with the string players on this project. The poem, "These Days", was written by the inimitable Laura Stratford. Throughout 2019 there were many US states trying to pass very strident abortion restrictions because they believed that Roe vs Wade would be overturned. To overturn the right to a safe abortion puts thousands of lives at risk. This backward and cruel move was one of so many nightmare scenarios we saw during the previous administration. It was absolutely horrifying, but not at all surprising to those of us who were paying attention; those of us who wept in the weeks following the November 2016 election while so many "moderates" told us we were overreacting. Beyond those vicious and manipulative laws that were passed, now the death toll from the pandemic has surpassed the death toll of Americans during WWII. Black people continue to be routinely murdered by police in the streets with a complete lack of justice or accountability. Children have been ripped from their families and literally lost. Migrants have been forced into concentration camps on US soil. So much cruelty and shame has come from the American government in the past 4 years. We weren't overreacting. "Breathe" is an autobiographical poem also by Laura Stratford. It tells the story of one young person's journey to diagnose and then manage panic disorder. The two voices are portraying the same character. I tried to use the shifting themes and sometimes awkward leaps and rhythms to portray what it's like to learn to live with a chronic mental illness. It isn't an overnight process. It requires patience and kindness. But those with chronic illness are valuable members of society, and it's important that we as a society give them the support they need to lead fulfilling lives. Watch the CirclesCycles&Seasons program here: