Valerie Joi, Narrator
Valerie Joi (Fiddmont) is a multifaceted pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger, producer and choral director, as well as scholar and activist, passionate about creating a world of love, equity and justice. She served as the founding Minister of Music for Inner Light Ministries in Santa Cruz, California for 16 years, during which time she facilitated Singing Circles designed for transformative experience and founded the Inner Light Choir. She also directed the University of California Santa Cruz Gospel Choir for 13 years and was named a Porter College Faculty Fellow in 2013.
Valerie Joi has independently released Singing the Sacred Yes, a musical invitation to deepen our relationship with the Divine, and Remembering to Remember: Hymns for the Soul, which pays tribute to her own spiritual heritage in this country. Her original music can also be heard in the documentary films Jumpin’ the Broom and God and Gays: Bridging the Gap and more recently, the Apple podcast Mindfulness for the Culture.
Valerie Joi’s most inspirational musical moments include leading inmates in a song about forgiveness at a women’s prison correctional facility, soloing on the stage of Carnegie Hall, and singing background vocals for Quincy Jones at the 2016 Monterey Jazz Festival. She is committed to spiritual activism and social justice, and her greatest joy is witnessing transformation and healing through song. Valerie Joi currently serves as the Minister of Music for a church in Oakland, California and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Transformative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies focusing on using music to deepen cultural humility.
Iván Enrique Rodríguez
Puerto Rican composer Iván Enrique Rodríguez’ music has been performed throughout the United States, North and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. In Italy, he received the Rimini International Choral Competition Prize (2014) and the International Composition Competition Maurice Ravel Award (2015). He also won the American Composers Orchestra EarShot Program and the Audience Choice Award (2015) for the United States premiere of his piece Luminis with the Columbus Symphony. In 2019, Rodríguez was presented with the prestigious ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Award and the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. He has been composer-in-residence at Sweden’s Lövstabruks Kammarmusikfestival and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Rodríguez’s musical-social involvement has been recognized by Musical America Worldwide, which named him one of 2021’s Top Professionals of the Year; the Junior Chamber International in Puerto Rico, which named him one of 2014’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World; and the Comité Noviembre in New York City, which named him a Puerto Rican Heritage Ernesto Malave Scholar of the Arts (2018).
Rodríguez’s music is inspired by the human experience, strong emotions, social justice, and activism while always highlighting his Puerto Rican musical heritage. His most recent orchestral piece, A Metaphor for Power, takes as its central thesis the current Latinx experience as well as the ongoing equality issues in the United States. In 2019, A Metaphor for Power was selected by the Edward T. Cone Composition Institute to be premiered by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Cristian Măcelaru. Rodríguez’s commitment to human rights, equality, and justice has also led him to collaborate with Vision Collective on their first German tour through Nigerian, Iraqi, Georgian, Syrian, and Turkish refugee camps.
Rodríguez currently pursues his D.M.A. in the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellows Program at The Julliard School, where he has been the recipient of the Gretchaninoff Memorial Prize, the Bernard Jaffe Scholarship and Commission, the King Doctoral Scholarship, and the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship. His mentors include Dr. Robert Beaser, Dr. Melinda Wagner, and Maestro Alfonso Fuentes.
Dr. Stacy Garrop is an award-winning, nationally recognized freelance American composer and lecturer whose music is centered on dramatic and lyrical storytelling. Her catalog covers a wide range of genres, with works for orchestra, opera, oratorio, wind ensemble, choir, art song, and various sized chamber ensembles.
Garrop has received numerous awards and grants including an Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Fromm Music Foundation Grant, Barlow Prize, and three Barlow Endowment commissions, along with prizes from competitions sponsored by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Omaha Symphony, New England Philharmonic, Boston Choral Ensemble, Utah Arts Festival, and Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.
Notable commissions include The Battle for the Ballot for the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Goddess Triptych for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Transformation of Jane Doe for Chicago Opera Theater, In a House Besieged for The Crossing, Give Me Hunger for Chanticleer, Glorious Mahalia for the Kronos Quartet, Rites for the Afterlife for the Akropolis and Calefax Reed Quintets, and My Dearest Ruth for voice and piano with text by the husband of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Theodore Presser Company and ECS Publishing carry her works. Garrop’s music is frequently recorded by Cedille Records, with works commercially available on several additional labels.
In 2022, Garrop is serving as the featured composer of the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival and the Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival, as well as a mentor composer for the Cabrillo Conductors/Composers Workshop, LunART Festival Composers Hub, and Chicago a cappella’s HerVoice Emerging Women Choral Composers Competition. She was the inaugural Emerging Opera Composer for Chicago Opera Theater’s Vanguard Program (2018-2020) and served as composer-in-residence with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, funded by New Music U.S.A. and the League of American Orchestras (2016-2019).
Paola Prestini has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, and scientists on large-scale, multimedia works that explore themes ranging from the cosmos to the environment. She created the largest communal VR opera with The Hubble Cantata, participated in the New York Philharmonic’s legendary Project 19 initiative, and has written and produced large-scale projects including the eco-documentary The Colorado, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Houston Da Camera Series, and the lauded opera theater work Aging Magician, commissioned by the Walker Arts Center and the Krannert Center with performances at ASU, the New Victory Theater and San Diego Opera. Her compositions have been commissioned and performed at the Cannes Film Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Opera, among others.
Prestini was the first woman in the Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative with her grand opera Edward Tulane. Her chamber opera Sensorium Ex, co-commissioned by The Atlanta Opera and Beth Morrison, examines the intersection of artificial intelligence and disability, using non-verbal or non-typical patterns of speech to explore the question of what it means to have voice. Her opera theater work Woman and the Sea, with Karmina Šilec and Royce Vavrek, will be premiered by Carolina Performing Arts and Arizona State University. Additionally, an immersive installation of Prestini’s Houses of Zodiac will run at The Broad from June-September of 2022.
Prestini is the co-founder and artistic director of National Sawdust. Her podcast about artistic leadership and social change, Active Hope, is a collaboration with the Kennedy Center and Apollo Theater. She started the Hildegard Competition for emerging female, trans, and non-binary composers, and the Blueprint Fellowship for emerging composers and female mentors with The Juilliard School. Prestini was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow, a Sundance Institute Film Music Program Fellow, and artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory and MASS MoCA. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School.
One of the dominant compositional voices of his generation, John Harbison’s concert music catalog is anchored by three operas, six symphonies, six string quartets, 12 concerti, a ballet, an organ symphony, numerous song cycles and chamber works, and a large body of sacred music including cantatas, motets, and orchestral-choral works.
Harbison has received commissions from the United States’ premiere musical institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
His music is distinguished by its resourcefulness and expressive range, from the grandest to the most intimate. His style is “original, varied, and absorbing—relatively easy for audiences to grasp, and yet formal and complex enough to hold our interests through repeated hearings…boasting both lucidity and logic” (Fanfare Magazine).
Harbison is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a trustee of the Bogliasco Foundation, and chair emeritus of the composition program at Tanglewood. Harbison is also Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT, principal guest conductor at Emmanuel Music, and founding co-director of the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. He has held residencies with the Pittsburgh and Los Angeles orchestras, the American Academy in Rome, and festivals including Aspen, Marlboro, Santa Fe, and Songfest. He has also served as the music director of Cantata Singers, president of the Copland Fund, and trustee of the American Academy in Rome.
Harbison’s recent works include song cycles In the Early Evening, After Long Silence, Four Poems for Robin, and Winter Journey; chamber works Nuns Fret Not (trumpet sextet), Incontro (violin/piano), and a suite for solo violin; choral music Sleepers Wake and Hidden Paths; and keyboard works Piano Sonata No. 3, Prelude for Organ, and Passage. Forthcoming publications include the second volume of his pop and jazz songs, a collection of his a capella arrangements of jazz standards and originals, and cadenzas for Mozart and Beethoven concertos. Harbison’s opera The Great Gatsby is due for major revival in 2025.
A Metaphor for Power (2018)
Iván Enrique Rodríguez (b. 1990)
[West Coast Premiere]
“We hold these TRUTHS to be SELF-EVIDENT, that all men are created EQUAL, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This is how the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence reads…
In our present-day, this sentence invites us, and certainly myself, to think about our experience in this nation, the United States of America. It is unquestionably evident that the present-day of the American experience is governed by a perceivable and unceasingly growing inequality. From the abysmal separation of social classes to the renaissance of the historical but silenced racial discrimination. A Metaphor for Power, a title chosen from a James Baldwin quote, is a musical essay that attempts to address the present turbulence of ideologies, dreams, and hard-hitting realities. The piece unfolds as an expedition through an expanse of troublesome experiences visited by fleeting and unsuccessful moments of hope. Through this journey of struggle, emotional sufferings, and survival, the narrative is interrupted with ideological symbolisms that, in the aftermath of the affair, may have taken different meanings. As a Latino composer from Puerto Rico—and United States citizen by birth—this musical essay takes a more vivid significance as many of the unpleasant events have been part of my direct and personal American experience.
—Iván Enrique Rodríguez
Let Me See the Sun (2021)
Paola Prestini (b. 1975)
Let Me See the Sun is a new concerto written by Paola Prestini as part of the HINDSIGHT project from pianist Lara Downes, celebrating the Centennial of the passing of the 19th Amendment. The project was co-commissioned by the Ravinia Festival, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Oregon Bach Festival.
Let Me See the Sun is about the human impulse to remain hopeful, and what it means to struggle towards clarity and light. Prestini’s own identity informs the language, as an immigrant artist who balances the various impulses and needs within her own spirit. The work is structured as a dialogue between piano and orchestra, at times contentious and at times unified, coalescing at the end into a single whistling line. The simplicity of the last sung line, “Let Me See the Sun,” represents the optimism and fragility contained in the voices calling out every day in pursuit of multiple forms of equity. Folk music, virtuosity, harsh dissonance, and vocal simplicity are infused in the work.
The Battle for the Ballot (2020)
Stacy Garrop (b. 1969)
Texts by American Suffragists:
Jane Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Carrie W. Clifford, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Adella Hunt Logan, and Mary Church Terrell
[West Coast Premiere | Festival Commission]
Commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Music Director & Conductor Cristian Măcelaru, with generous support from JoAnn Close and Michael Good, The Battle for the Ballot commemorates the centenary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920 granting women the right to vote.
Democracy in the United States has always been a messy process that is in a constant state of flux. When the nation’s Constitution was penned, the framers of the document didn’t differentiate voting rights between men and women. This led to various interpretations in the thirteen original colonies. For instance, while most of the colonies passed state laws that stipulated only a male adult who possessed property worth fifty pounds could vote, New Jersey’s laws allowed women to vote between 1776 and 1807, after which they were excluded. Women weren’t the only disenfranchised party in these states—slaves, men of particular religions, and men too poor to own the requisite amount of land were excluded as well. As the country progressed, wording was added to many states’ voting laws to ensure that white men (and a slim grouping at that) were the sole possessors of the vote.
Women’s inability to vote carried significant consequences. They paid taxes with no legal voice in crafting the laws of the land (i.e. taxation without representation). They were barred from becoming politicians, formulating laws, and serving on juries. If a woman got married, she immediately lost custody of her wages, children, possessions, and property. Women grew progressively frustrated by these circumstances and began to organize. The first women’s rights convention was held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, and officially launched the beginning of the women’s Suffrage movement. While additional conventions were held over the next several years, forward progress was halted during the Civil War (1861-1865), after which the cause was taken up again. Starting in the late 1860s, various Suffrage organizations formed, fell apart, and re-formed in pursuit of rallying women and men to the cause. Black Suffragettes were not treated well by many of their white counterparts; as a result, they created organizations and clubs of their own. Even when the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1919 and ratified in 1920, many states immediately passed laws that blocked Black women from voting by one means or another; this situation wasn’t rectified until Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act which federally protected all citizens’ right to vote and put an end to discriminatory practices throughout the country. Nonetheless, we still witness today how various parts of our nation try new methods to disenfranchise Black women and men from voting. Not only is democracy a messy process, but it is something we must be vigilant in safekeeping for all of our citizens.
The Battle for the Ballot features the voices of seven Suffragettes, four of whom are Black (Carrie W. Clifford, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Adella Hunt Logan, and Mary Church Terrell) and three of whom are white (Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt). I excerpted lines from their speeches and writings, then interwove these lines together to form a single narrative that follows their reasoning for fighting so hard for the right to vote.
The Battle for the Ballot
American Suffragists (in alphabetical order): Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Carrie W. Clifford, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Adella Hunt Logan, Mary Church Terrell
TEXTS (in order of use):
Woman suffrage is coming – you know it. (Carrie Chapman Catt)
The ballot! The sign of power, the means by which things are brought to pass, the talisman that makes our dreams come true! (Carrie W. Clifford)
When I am asked to give the reasons why women should have the ballot, the reasons are too many to name. At every turn we are brought up to the desire to have a vote. (Jane Addams)
It is the ballot that opens the schoolhouse and closes the saloon; that keeps the food pure and the cost of living low; that causes a park to grow where a dump-pile grew before. (Carrie W. Clifford)
It is the ballot that regulates capital and protects labor; that up-roots disease and plants health. It is by the ballot we hope to develop the wonderful ideal state for which we are all so zealously working. (Carrie W. Clifford)
I don’t believe in urging a man to vote against his convictions. I don’t even believe in trying too hard to persuade him… But the women should have votes to represent themselves. (Jane Addams)
How can anyone who is able to use reason, and who believes in dealing out justice to all God’s creatures, think it is right to withhold from one-half the human race rights and privileges freely accorded to the other half? (Mary Church Terrell)
What a reproach it is to a government which owes its very existence to the loved freedom in the human heart that it should deprive any of its citizens of their sacred and cherished rights. (Mary Church Terrell)
Justice is not fulfilled so long as woman is unequal before the law. (Frances Ellen Watkins Harper)
Behold our Uncle Sam floating the banner with one hand, “Taxation without representation is tyranny,” and with the other seizing the billions of dollars paid in taxes by women to whom he refuses “representation.” (Carrie Chapman Catt)
Behold him again, welcoming the boys of twenty-one and the newly made immigrant citizen to “a voice in their own government” while he denies that fundamental right of democracy to thousands of women public school teachers from whom many of these men learn all they know of citizenship and patriotism… (Carrie Chapman Catt)
Is all this tyranny any less humiliating and degrading to women under our government today than it was to men one hundred years ago? (Susan B. Anthony)
Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance. (Mary Church Terrell)
Having no vote they need not be feared or heeded. The “right to petition” is good; but it is much better when well voted in. (Adella Hunt Logan)
This much, however, is true now: the colored American believes in equal justice to all, regardless of race, color, creed or sex, …and longs for the day when the United States shall indeed have a government of the people, for the people… and by the people…even including the colored people. (Adella Hunt Logan)
Seek first the kingdom of the ballot, and all things else shall be given thee. (Susan B. Anthony)
If we once establish the false principle, that citizenship does not carry with it the right to vote in every state in this Union,…there is no end to the cunning devices that will be resorted to, to exclude one and another class of citizens from the right of suffrage (Susan B. Anthony)
The time for woman suffrage is come. The woman’s hour has struck. (Carrie Chapman Catt)
And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long. (Mary Church Terrell)
With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope. (Mary Church Terrell)
We propose to fight our battle for the ballot –all peaceably, but nevertheless persistently through to complete triumph, when all United States citizens shall be recognized as equals before the law. (Susan B. Anthony)
The Great Gatsby Suite (2007)
John Harbison (b. 1938)
After the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
[West Coast Premiere]
I’m grateful to David Zinman, who conducted, in 1998, valuable Aspen readings of scenes from my opera The Great Gatsby, for convincing me to produce this Gatsby Suite.
It wasn’t quite as simple as his galvanizing verbal outline led me to hope, but it was intriguing nevertheless to return to the music, to try to give a sense of the opera in a well-chosen twenty-five minutes.
I decided not to use any of the excerpts already separately available–the Overture and the six principal Arias, for which I have made concert endings. Instead, I’ve concentrated on the instrumental music–stage and radio band sequences and orchestral interludes.
In returning to the realm of this piece, I think with gratitude of the advocacy of James Levine, as conductor, and Dawn Upshaw as Daisy–Muse, as well as the vivid inhabitation of all the characters by the casts of the Metropolitan Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. And, of course, I think of two great singers, now departed–Jerry Hadley (Gatsby) and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Myrtle), whose voices and personalities vividly shaped the music you hear in this Suite.