“As a Haitian-American composer, I was raised by immigrant parents from Haiti, who experienced American life both before, and after, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Their views were informed by life on a free Island nation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; life in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois; and life in the complex diversity of Pompano Beach, Florida. They identified with Malcolm and Martin, Maya and Rosa, and the great Haitian warriors, Makandal and Toussaint. Civil rights, for our household, was global, local, and part of the very fabric of our lives and culture. I created [this work] as a musical portrait of Rosa Parks’ struggle, survival, and legacy. The music is a direct reflection of a dignified resistance. It’s telling that this work may, in fact, be performed on stages that didn’t allow the presence of so many, so often. I often refer to the stage as the last bastion of democracy, where all voices can and should be heard, where we are all equal, important, and necessary.“
The first movement* was inspired by Parks’ statement, “I made up my mind not to move.” It is the longest of the three movements and is characterized by a driving, insistent rhythm throughout, which evokes the dignified persistence of Parks herself. The second movement, titled “Klap Ur Handz,” is based around the communal activity of clapping. The final movement, “Isorhythmiclationistic,” is much more solemn and introspective in nature.
*In this recording by the Lark Quartet, the movements appear in a different order. On the playlist they will appear in the Lark’s order: Second, First, Third.
– Henry Michaels
Resonance Editor, Audience Services and Community Access Manager, Music Academy of the West