A work commissioned by the Albany Symphony
It is easy to forget about half of the world’s population when reading standard history. Most people who have shaped society have all been overwhelming male. Centuries of conditioning have made women invisible. It is hardly surprising that most women have not achieved much in the outside world, as they have been given so little chance to do so. However, there have been exceptions, and some had the courage to speak up. One of such voices, belonged to Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), the abolitionist and women\’s rights activist.
I have long been inspired by Truth\’s famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman,” where she aimed to deconstruct claims about gender in a patriarchal society. I was captivated by her courage and touched by the harsh reality that while the very invisibility of women in society had given them a submerged status, it was a lot more, when applied to Truth, who was both black – and a woman.
This score aims to bridge Sojourner Truth\’s powerful speech with the thoughts in the minds of young women who are growing up in a time where awareness is being collectively raised against many facets of oppression. Younger women are asking those before them:“ How in the world could you put up with this? “
The answer may not be so simple when so many female voices have been silenced, and feminist movements pushed down. But as we experience this equalitarian wave, it is important to keep the spirit alive, and repetition is key. Nothing changes overnight – It is a slow process of re-structuring of a world where women were never protagonists.
In my 10 years of working with young women, I have seen how difficult it is for them to speak up. How many times they are silenced by unexplainable fears of not being adequate. Girls are encouraged to behave in a passive, obedient manner, boys are encouraged to suppress their feelings, not cry and to be tough. Clearly, things are way out of balance and what we should all be focusing on, would be on encouraging all youngsters to be caring and loving individuals. In the meantime, some courage must be exercised and this piece is our contribution to this moment.