The libretto of “Maternity” begins with the narrator singing to her child “You are here because of me.” The narrator then begins to reflect back on her maternal line, paying homage to twenty-one mothers, stretching far back in time.
The music is organized as a theme and variations on a lullaby, introduced under the opening text. What follows are twenty-one, short musical scenes in which the lullaby is transformed to depict each generation: for the mother who dies in childbirth, it is an agonized plea; for the mother who could calm her tribe, it is peaceful; for the amphibious mother, flowing. When the mothers ignore their offspring or have a rough time protecting them, the lullaby is distorted or covered over; but its essence remains, carried all the way through.
The narrator eventually looks back all the way to the very first mother. Then, to accompany the text “She carries the first draft of a genetic handbook based from female to female,” the music rapidly rewinds through the generations in a massive orchestral rush. Back in the present, the narrator sings a final version of the lullaby to her child: “Because of all of us, you are here.”
–Anthony Brandt, composer
ROCO will perform the world premiere of Maternity on Saturday, April 21, at The Church of St. John the Divine. More…