Who will cry for her?

for mezzo-soprano and guitar

This text was written by Rev. Kathleen W. Haynes in April 2020, after she officiated a
funeral which, due to COVID-19 restrictions, was sparsely attended and socially-distanced. During this time, mourners are compelled to find ways to connect with loved ones without the traditional practice of physically gathering together.

Vocal range: G3–D5. Arrangements for other voice types and piano are in progress.

Watch the Bowers Fader Duo performing Who will cry for her?:

I only learned of her death the evening before.
I made a few phone calls out in the drizzle in the backyard
because I don’t have good reception in my home.
I prayed over the phone with someone as the church bells rang next door,
drowning out my words
and as I said “Amen” my voice began to break.
I loved her but I hadn’t seen her in months.
And I wept for her.
The next morning, I woke to memories of her.
She and I had talked about this day.
It wasn’t much of what I wanted for her.
But I was there. Her friend was there.
Her daughter and granddaughter were there.
There were almost more people from the funeral home than those to say goodbye.
I was able to sing.
The song she said many times she wanted at her funeral.
And after we committed her body to the ground and I gave the benediction,
I began to cry again.
This was something I had been trained not to do.
Something lectured against, something said to be selfish.
But the words, “Who will cry for her?” rang clear in my mind and heart.
I have learned over the years that sometimes it is I
who needs to give grief permission to be here.
“Who will cry for her?”
I will cry for her.
I will cry for her as one who loved her.
I will cry for all those who because of this bizarre day and age cannot be present at her burial.
“Who will cry for her?”
I will cry for her.
And as I cried, my eyes met her granddaughter’s eyes.
We could not embrace, we could not stand close, but we could both cry.

On Being Interrupted

for mezzo-soprano and guitar

For decades, studies have documented that men interrupt women who are speaking, particularly in the workplace, with much higher frequency than they interrupt other men (or than women interrupt anyone).* There are many theories as to why this may be and how to remedy it, but the incidence of interruption does not seem to have changed much over the years. This piece lists some of the tactics “experts” recommend women use to avoid being interrupted. Continue reading 

Ill on a Journey

for vocal soloists, chorus and string orchestra

Ill on a Journey is a multilingual opera/oratorio about navigating life with chronic illness—the story of Aurelia, an adventure-loving woman whose health increasingly restricts her mobility. Featuring ancient and modern texts from around the world, it explores the theme of travel and alternative means of fulfillment for those who are unable to leave home. The title is taken from the last poem of Matsuo Bashō, a 17th-century Japanese journeyman-poet with whom Aurelia feels an affinity.

Aurelia’s worsening illness precipitates a search for meaning in her favorite activity: traveling. From the isolation of her bedroom, she voraciously reads, trying to pinpoint exactly why traveling is so special to her, and how she might find similar purpose in her new housebound life.

The story takes place over the course of a year and is divided into 12 movements corresponding to each month. The chorus and its soloists present material that Aurelia reads (texts by Han Yu, Matsuo Bashō, Gabriela Mistral, Claude McKay, and Alexander Pushkin, among others, in the original languages), and she responds in solo (soprano) passages, on texts by the composer in English. Three of Aurelia’s solo movements have been independently performed in chamber ensemble arrangements, available below.

Please contact Rebekah if you are interested in performing this piece.

September: Mt. Carrigain

January: Brin’s Mesa

May: Green-wood Cemetery

May: Green-wood Cemetery

for soprano and viola

This piece was inspired by Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, 478 acres of natural beauty, history, and sculpture. The site of the 1776 Battle of Long Island, the cemetery now features four glacial ponds and thousands of trees (including some of Brooklyn’s oldest), sheltering an astounding variety of resident and migrating birds. Continue reading 

January: Brin’s Mesa

for soprano and violin

This piece was inspired by a site in Arizona’s Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, where in 2006 a campfire triggered the devastation of 4,000 acres. Continue reading 

Iwa Ni

for flute with optional fixed media

The title Iwa Ni comes from a poem by 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō. By itself, iwa ni means something like “into the rock”. Bashō wrote the poem at the mountain temple of Risshakuji, as part of his 1,500-mile journey around northern Japan. Continue reading 

Apart/ment

for four treble voices, alto flute, bass clarinet, cello, piano

About 60,000 people, including some 24,000 children, sleep in New York’s municipal homeless shelters each night, and thousands more sleep unsheltered on the streets. This diverse population includes people from nearly all walks of life, although the primary cause of homelessness for the majority is the severe shortage of affordable housing.

Continue reading 

For Lantau

for chamber choir and viola

This work was composed while living on the large and mostly rural island of Lantau, in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. In recent years the Lantau landscape has undergone dramatic transformations—tourism and transportation developments that can be seen from space, and an exponentially increasing population—with more changes planned for its future. Continue reading 

Testing the Second Breath

for flute and bassoon with fixed media

Testing the Second Breath refers to the maxim that half the Earth’s oxygen is generated by marine life. “Take two breaths,” conservationists say. “The second comes from the ocean.” Continue reading