September 9, 2010

Song of the week: “Grace”

To start things rolling Laura will be submitting a weekly blog called “Song of the Week.” This should take us into the next millennium…

Song of the Week
First blog ever of Laura Ward
September 8, 2010

Grace”      by Michael Tilson Thomas (b.1944)
Composed in honor of Leonard Bernstein’s 70th birthday
Recently published in the “American Art Song 50 Songs by 29 Composers”
of G. Schirmer, Inc., High Voice and Low Voice.
Compiled and edited by Richard Walters (my good friend)

Thanks to whoever is there for this tasty plate of herring!
Thanks to whoever may care for this tasty plate of herring.
Yesterday swimming swift in a salty sea
and today silver offerings made to me!
So if you please won’t you pass me whatever’s still left of this tasty treat we’re sharing
’cause the truth is it tastes good. Um um um.

Thanks to whoever is there for the sacred joy of music
and thank you fiddlers and flutists and divas and rock and roll drummers.
Thanks to whoever has dared give us brave new sounds of music.
Thank you composers, professors, and casual off-the-cuff hummers.
So commend singers down through the centuries,
cherished friends Wolfgang, Gustav, George, dear Lenny.
It seems to me that we all feel so close to the truth
in the notes our souls declaring
and the truth is it feels good. Um um um.

So many people calling out to one another,
help us to hear them, teach us that all men are brothers,
so many people, so many stories, so many questions,
so many blessings make us grateful whatever comes next
in this life on earth we’re sharing.
For the truth is life is good.
So many mem’ries…

I played this song for Denyce Graves in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court of the United States of America on Friday, September 3, 2010. The occasion was the memorial service for Martin David Ginsburg, the husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Little did I know that when I encouraged Denyce to sing this song, Martin Ginsburg was a gourmet chef and adored Mozart. That is besides being a genius in tax law and father of brilliant children and friend to many.

Justice Ginsburg had requested that Denyce sing a setting of Psalm 23 and something that showed her late husband’s sense of humor. When I rehearsed “Grace” with Denyce the day before the service, I was literally covered head to toe with goose bumps from the way she became the words and the song. This song says it all for so many people and I feel blessed to know it and to have played it for this most important occasion. “For the truth is life is good”.

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