for solo piano(2018)
|Commission||Commissioned by Lior Willinger for the Active Listening series|
|Premiere||October 12, 2018; Spectrum NYC; Lior Willinger, piano|
I was asked to write a piece inspired by a particular social justice issue that is close to my heart, and I chose to highlight the simultaneous feeling of power and powerlessness, and the often crushing isolation that comes with my being a black woman in higher academia. Throughout my life in schools, including two Masters degrees, I was among a tiny handful of people of color and the only black woman in my program. As I head into a PhD in music composition in the Fall of 2018, I’m afraid it will remain the same. I love that I’ll be able to raise awareness, but I hate being “one of the only.” Casey Quinlan, and many other authors on the subject of PoC in higher academia, wrote that “one of the greatest challenges of being a black college student at a predominantly white college is the pressure to represent your entire race positively by succeeding at everything.” I believe this sentiment extends to all marginalized groups in the United States in some ways. It is lonely. It is exhausting. And though yes, it is getting slightly better, it will take a very very long time to rectify.
I recognize the specific privilege that comes with being biracial; having lighter skin and certain features have allowed me certain ‘advantages’ that many of my darker sisters and brothers have not experienced. Many of them have had much worse, scarier, lonelier experiences than I, all while being isolated in the academic pursuit they are chasing. To them, I see you. Let me be your shoulder to lean on. I know I’ll probably need your shoulders too.
TOWERS is for me, and for all those who reside in their own stronghold. Though we often feel confined to our own separate spires in our own separate kingdoms, I know that someday we’ll all be able to come down. Slowly but surely, we will all rise together.
TOWERS was commissioned by Lior Willinger in the Summer of 2018.