“Voices of Timbuctoo” – John Brown Day’s Blog – May 10th Premier

Everything a composer could want. The performance was right on!  The choir, the soloists, the accompanists played every bit of soul that this piece had to offer (and a little more than I expected in some cases!).  But that wasn’t all. The church was packed.  By some estimates, there were upwards of 500 people there. Now, a couple weeks ago, I played at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in Manhattan and there were lots of people there…but that was Manhattan and this is Saranac Lake.  This concert drew together many different parts of the North Country community into a vibrant audience that wanted more at the end. We responded with a reprise of the final Timbuctoo movement entitled, “Under Our Own Vine,” and the audience stood up and moved into the aisles to dance and clap.  It was ridiculously fun!

It strikes me that this piece was in many ways their piece.  We all know about the big moments in History that happened somewhere else, to somebody else, that affected how we live. But this is their story, their contribution to core struggle for racial equality that defines us as a nation.

Paula and Francesca and I were so exciting to be with this community, celebrating their heritage with music.  While composers often write music that is primarily about themselves, for all of us who create, it is so important for us to write music that gives voice to others. This is the civic obligation of creators, to reach beyond our personal, artistic interests and to mold and shape the ideas, the dreams, the hopes, and the struggles of communities into a singular expression.  There is nothing better in my job!