GNE concludes the 2018-19 season of its residency at Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ with the final program in a series called the Four Freedoms, based on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Essential Freedoms,” articulated in his 1941 State of the Union speech supporting our allies in Europe ahead of World War II. This program is commenting on the freedom from fear.
Freedom from Fear is possibly the most basic desire we have as humans: survival. Each of the works in this program addresses fear from various perspectives. In Be Just!, Martin Bresnick speaks to the fear of injustice and the realization that, perhaps, we have not been the good people we always thought we were. Dana Kaufman’s Peaporutus (“Concussion”) is a more personal story of fear: fear of direct violence to the composer herself, who was randomly attacked in a foreign country one summer evening, and was left concussed and alone, needing to get herself to a hospital in a strange land. Nebal Maysaud’s Electronic Battleship and Armando Bayolo’s Last Breaths deal with institutionalized state violence, either through warfare, or the institutional racism inherent in police brutality. Last Breaths is a powerful setting of the final words of black men murdered because of their “otherness” and the suspicion that arose in their white (or white-identifying) attackers.
In Alex Temple’s Switch, we have perhaps the most unique piece in our entire season, not just this program. In 2013, Temple and engineer Sylvia Wald invented a device that could “capture audio signals from parallel universes.” Before the machine overheated and was destroyed, along with its schematics, Temple and Wald managed to listen to audio from a culture in a universe where people are forced into strict social roles according to whether they’re right- or left-handed. This audio told the story of a dissident group, The Free Zone, which saw its Utopian dream destroyed by a violent, right-wing dictatorship. We are lucky to have Alex Temple’s transcription—from memory!—of this historic broadcast as a cautionary tale of arbitrary injustice.
The program, and the season, wraps up with Julius Eastman’s Stay on It. Stay on It is as joyful a work as Eastman (who faced incredible hardship and poverty due to his unwillingness to conform to societal expectations) ever wrote. Like the best of Eastman’s music, however, it is still uncompromising in challenging us to do better, to be better, and to defeat the darkness that nearly consumes us on a daily basis.
This performance will feature Meaghan Burke, vocalist for the Temple, and Andrew Sauvageau, baritone for the Bayolo. Blair Skinner will be the conductor.
Tickets are available through OvationTix : $30 General Admission presale, $24 WCUCC Members / Students/Seniors & Military at the door.