Alice Shieldscomposer

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Mioritza — Program Notes

Mioritza — Requiem for Rachel Corrie (2003) — For Trombone and Computer Music on Tape

Duration 12:00

Composed in memory of Rachel Corrie, 23, of Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death March 16, 2003 by an Israeli forces bulldozer as she stood before it trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the southern Gaza strip.

I created Mioritza in memory of Rachel Corrie,the 23-year-old American peace activist who on16 March 2003 was murdered by an Israeli forces bulldozer while attempting to defend a Palestinian doctor's home from demolition. Many innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians have been killed during the Israeli occupation; this young American had come there to help in peace-making and defending the innocent. And so when Monique Buzzarté asked me to write a piece, I decided to dedicate the work to Rachel Corrie's memory.

I took the title "Mioritza" from a traditional Romanian poem of that name, which translates into English as "the clarivoyant lamb." The piece begins in a slow sarabande rhythm in a beat of three, with the emphasis on the second beat. Towards the middle of the piece the performer sings through the trombone an Indian raga melody with a phrase in Sanskrit: "Vittala, vittala, vittala, vittala: Deva vittala, Deva vittala..." which means roughly "glory to God." I created the tape part using C-Sound and ProTools. The music and the poem, printed below, can be experienced separately or together; they are two different expressions of my reaction to Rachel's martyrdom in the cause of peace.

Alice Shields
New York, NY

Yeast, foam, froth, spume,
the subject of exaltation,

I am a sheet of floating ice, the forehead of the morning.

I am a place for the washing of clothes,
a breathing water for the washing of feet,

in sunset a sistrum of light on the waves,
the rim thereon finished off in gold between the breasts,
admired even where the gods gather together
to thrust back the fastening of a gate
in air.

I am a cloud or body of mist,
epithet of sleep, sweet, grateful, refreshing,

the cloud-gatherer
from which one is not easily

Fragrant to lay ahold of,
kindly welcome,

from beyond where the water wells up
from the dark,

with your swanshift of feathers
over the surface of the earth the heavens revolve,

over the axis of symmetry
about which the body is arranged,

engirdled by the cerulean fields on high,

dyeing the world azure in a bath of bliss,
the marvelling echo streaming
from the sky

— Alice Shields

Click on the image for a sample score page

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