Racism is a long term tragedy, and the country is a long way from achieving equal opportunity and fairness. We have work to do. This performance expresses some of the sadness and anger I feel about these issues, as well as my intention to confront them and try to make a difference in the world.
The first piece on the concert is Shostakovich’s Prelude 2 from his Op. 87 collection of 24 preludes and fugues. It moves along without a pause. No rest, no stopping to contemplate. There are occasional turns in the road, but nothing exceptional.
The second piece is the weighty Prelude 4 in E-minor, which I hear as a sad piece filled with dissonances. There is a slow crying phrase marked espessivo (expressive) that repeats throughout. There is one optimistic section near the end, before the crying phrase reasserts itself.
Both preludes were written as introductions to a fugue in the same key. But without their accompanying fugues, something is missing. They are preludes, but preludes to what?
The third piece is the spiritual, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” I used as a source the Paul Robeson recording from “Ballad For Americans”, which he sent as a message of national unity in the 1940 presidential election. This song has special significance for me, as it was one that my mother loved and sometimes sang. I decided to play the piece on the cello, as the cello’s sound is close to the human voice.
The final selection, “A Long Way From Home” is an improvisation on “Sometimes I Feel”, using material from the song and from the Shostakovich Prelude 2. The continuity of the prelude is interrupted by the message that we remain a long way from where we need to be.
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
(Spiritual, After Paul Robeson)
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child (3x) -- A long ways from home (2x)
Come my brother -- A long ways from home (2x)
Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone (3x) -- A long ways from home (2x)
Come my sister -- A long ways from home (2x)