Voices Shouting Out

Printer Friendly VersionSend by email

            The composer, educated at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, took her graduate degrees at Rutgers University.  Brought up on Long Island as the daughter of an American mother and a Nigerian father, she is known for her compositions that reflect, not only subjects from the American Black experience, but also her African heritage, as well.  She has taught in Nigeria and Ghana, and is interested in combining elements of non-Western and popular music styles with that of the Western “classical” tradition.  Recent works have been inspired by iconic Black women in American history, Harriet Tubman and Phillis Wheatley.  But, not to be pigeon-holed, she also is adept at composing in a wide variety of musical styles, and moreover, is a noted “soft sculpture” artist, widely recognized for her multi-cultural dolls.

            Voices Shouting Out is a response to the tragedy popularly known as 911, but unlike many artistic responses, it is not a solemn, and grieving exploration of that terrible event which changed forever American definitions of freedom and security.  The composer relates that initially her intent was, indeed, to compose in grief, but she simply could not find the voice to do so.  Rather, what ensued was a voice of affirmation, a reflection of a determination to move ahead in confidence and unity as a people.   This is an artist’s statement of the necessity of national optimism in the midst of profound challenges.  In her words, “It was a march to acknowledge those fighting on behalf of our safety, and yet a sparkling celebration of life for those who continue living.” Voices Shouting Out was begun on New Year’s Eve, 2001 and given its première in February 2202 by The Virginia Symphony.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2015 William E. Runyan