After making his “triumphant debut” with SWC last fall, Artistic Director Paul Caldwell returns to the stage with them in March to present a concert that celebrates the power and influence of women across the globe. A Woman’s World is presented in two complementary halves; the latter is a brand new song suite from Associate Artistic Director Eric Lane Barnes, about inspiring American women who have shaped the country that we know today (come back next month to read much more about it!).
The first half of the concert is a collection of songs, both famous and unfamiliar, that speak to a woman’s power to enact change within herself and her community. These songs range from pop and Broadway standards to stories from true life; two pieces were even written by Paul himself, with his long-time composing partner, Sean Ivory.
One of those songs is “Beneath the African Sky,” inspired by Clemantine Wamariya, a child survivor of the Rwandan genocide who spent years as a refugee before immigrating to the US. Paul met Clemantine through a choral connection in Chicago. Infused throughout the piece, Paul and Sean have woven a lullaby that was sung to Clemantine by her mother, and that she continued to sing to herself as comfort during the years in which she had no home. Clemantine is now a member of the Board of Directors at Women for Women International, providing resources for women in war-torn countries to allow them to create sustainable change for themselves, their families, and their communities. (To learn more about “Beneath the African Sky,” we recommend this excellent 2013 article from Chorus America.)
“From Dusk to Dawn,” a piece by an American composer, Gwyneth Walker, chronicles the nonviolent protest by an organization of interfaith women who helped to end the years-long Liberian civil wars. The song is adapted from Mighty Be Our Powers, a memoir by Leymah Gbowee, one of the leaders of the peaceful protests which included sit-ins, human barricades, and a sex strike. Leymah was a recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
Heavy and dark though their source stories may be, the songs are actually very beautiful and inspiring music selections. Plus, they’re wrapped up in a variety of powerful and fun songs, including a contemporary arrangement of the Eurythmics’ “Sisters are Doin’ It for Themselves” (warning: clicking on that link may cause major ‘80s flashback).
A Woman’s World performs at Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, March 17-19.