Song for Flint
for solo viola
|Commission||Commissioned by Miller Theatre at Columbia University for the Year of Water 2019-20|
|Premiere||October 24, 2019; Miller Theatre at Columbia University; New York City; Kyle Armbrust, viola|
Judith Butler defines “precarity” as the unequal distribution of precariousness. These are precarious times, in which access to safe clean water is an endangered human right, increasingly under siege by the damage to the planet brought about by humankind’s excesses. But this is also an epoch of systemic inequality, in which corporations, municipalities, and nation-states can and do inflict incremental or drastic harm on entire vulnerable populations, through war, deregulated pollution, and the differential withholding of basic life needs. Jasbir Puar has called out this cruel, largely unchecked capacity of the powerful, which she critically labels “the right to maim.” The people of Flint, Michigan became a historic example of a living population subjected to this kind of violence, in the form of environmental racism. In this Year of Water, I offer this piece, and my commission, to the children of Flint.
– Vijay Iyer
New York City
October 2, 2019