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Who We Are

“We live in interesting times” is a phrase that is never wrong, but what I find so interesting about our current time is the presence of what I would call an upwelling of the human spirit.  It seems the time is fruitful for our less-visible citizens; from advocacy for the differently-abled, visibility for those with alternative sexualities, and increased sensitivity to the legitimacy of the words and experiences of women and people of color, we live in a time when more and more people are able come to the table and have their voices heard.  Such inclusion, however, is never met without fierce opposition.  I believe our society is experiencing the growing pains of learning what it truly means to share space with people of staggering diversity.  Just as there is variation in our hair color and in our height, there is also variation in our readiness to accept all that it means to be human.  But I believe that steps taken within the heart cannot be untaken, and so I remain stubbornly optimistic; the human spirit of kindness and understanding persists.
Who We Are is my homage to this phenomenon.  The piece opens quietly with an air of mystery and determination—a commentary on the quiet tenacity of love and justice.  The piano and low strings provide bright flashes of light in a rippling sea of ever-changing colors.  After a small climax, the double bass introduces the main theme, presented simply, expressively, and perhaps mournfully.  Slowly, the other strings join in, adding their highly contrapuntal voices, reciting a quiet doctrine of the beauty of individuality.  The piano interrupts violently, representing backlash and conflict.  The strings join in, reinforcing the piano line, representing the harshness of forced homogeneity.  After a soaring climax, the energy dissolves as the counterpoint returns. This ushers in a section of calm reflection that leads to the return of the opening material.  The main theme once again follows, but, signaled by a long glissando in the cello, bursts forth with full strength and vigor.  This is my hope for the future: that the human spirit will one day be unhindered by our darker instincts, and all will be granted the opportunity to lead lives of beauty and dignity.

Duration: 8 min.
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