We are beyond thrilled and honored to say we are BOTH composers for cellist Amanda Gookin’s Forward Music Project. We are joined by a roster of phenomenal women composers including Angelica Negrón, Amanda Feery, Leila Adu, Jessica Meyer, and Morgan Krauss.
From Amanda’s site: “The Forward Music Project is driven by social justice for women. We musicians, now more than ever, have an incredible ability to effect change in our communities. I commissioned composers to write pieces based on their personal story or a particular issue that affects women and girls. The compositions are stylistically contrasting and represent the vast definition of what it means to be a woman, ranging from issues of the LGBTQ+ community and reproductive rights to sexual violence and empowerment. A visceral experience, the composers require that I embody the spirit of their message physically, mentally, and emotionally. In performance I sing, chant, fight and breathe life into these works.”
The Forward Music Project has been a unique opportunity for us to explore deeply meaningful and important narratives, while diving into the soundscape of the cello. Nathalie’s piece, Dam Mwen Yo, is a work for solo cello and electronics. Dam Mwen Yo in Haitian creole simply translates to “these are my ladies”. In Haiti, the cultural image of women is one of strength. They are pillars of their homes and communities, and are both fearless and loving, all while carrying the weight of their families and children on their backs. As a first generation Haitian-American, these women -mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins – were central to Nathalie’s upbringing and understanding of what it means to be a woman. In Dantan, Haiti-Sud, where Nathalie’s family is from, it is rare to walk down the countryside roads without hearing the voices of women – in the fields, cooking for their loved ones, gathering water at the wells with their babies. This piece and the voices within it are representative of these ladies – Nathalie’s ladies. And the cello sings their song – one of strength, beauty, pain and simplicity in a familiar landscape.
Allison’s work, Stolen, is a sonatine for unaccompanied ‘cello with 3 short movements exploring the journey of a young girl who is sold into marriage. The first movement represents her stolen youth and the lamentation of saying goodbye to childhood. She is reflective of playtime, family memories and former dreams. While she is remembering pleasantries, she is also recognizing they are things of the past. The second movement explores the anxiety and sense of urgency felt about being forced into womanhood. She is full of complex feelings ranging from fear, unpreparedness, resentment and sadness. She also knows she has to bravely and quickly become an adult and sooner than later, a young parent. The third movement is her reluctant acceptance of and submission to an undesired life. She has assumed her new role, but is deeply yearning for the childhood she barely had and to have ownership of herself. Despite this, she must tend to her adult responsibilities as a matter of life or death. Today, one third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15.
The Forward Music Project will continue to tour for upcoming seasons. Follow the project here for more info.